Tag Archives: beef

Sunday Meals with Framily

I am delighted to find a way to offset the dreaded Sunday blues I have been feeling by having a “framily” dinner – a dinner with friends who are like my family.

This Sunday sadness is an odd phenomenon for me.  For many years I thought it was because on Sunday afternoon I remembered I had to go to work on Monday to a job I hated. As time passed and I changed jobs, then changed jobs again, I was in a series of long-term relationships with men who lived out of the City. Sundays meant either they left to go home, or I did, and there again leaving me feeling lonely at dinner and facing an evening of dread anticipating work.

Osso Bucco dinner

Work got better but I was always seemed to end up alone Sunday night and in my societally-programmed brain Sundays are meant to be spent with family or friends, with a well anticipated family meal capping off the weekend’s adventures with each other, or hopefully, at the minimum, the successful completion of chores that inevitably pile up. But that is not my life, and now that I am single and even without a cat roommate I find the sorrow and loneliness is sometimes overwhelming. Some Sundays I even spent watching Hallmark Channel movies and dabbing at the eyes with tissue, such a deplorable state in which to find oneself.  The Hallmark Channel!!

Last weekend however, I invited friends over for dinner and we had such a nice evening together, full of laughter, silliness and great food, even if it is a challenge to cook in my tiny kitchen astride a scooter. I realized, even after they went home, that I didn’t feel as lonely as I usually do, and this is because my dear friends are my family and that this simple family meal felt right and true and I felt like a member of a family, a family of friends, my “framily”.

I spoke honestly about my feelings over that dinner and found that some of my friends feel the same way.  Either they’re not in a relationship right now, or their partner lives far away like mine used to, or the child custody arrangements mean half of the Sundays they say goodbye to their children and go home alone.  I have proposed a standing Sunday dinner or midday supper going forward where we gather and relax and enjoy.  I know it can’t happen every weekend but I hope it will.

This weekend, despite the 6.1 earthquake that rocked the Bay Area and severely damaged the town of Napa, we in SF were in good shape, a little shaken but not stirred, if you know what I mean.  Saturday, before all of the excitement, I prepared an osso bucco with a large format beef shank from my amazing local butcher, 4505 Meats.  I love making osso bucco and it is very nostalgic for me and I haven’t made it for four years.

Osso Bucco dinner

I made a variation of my usual osso bucco and added shitakes and some local bell peppers, just because I had them, and used a bunch of whole carrots scattered across the top.  Everything cooked away in the oven while I practiced crutching around the apartment.

I was so proud of myself for using crutches almost the entire day, except when I made myself a sandwich for dinner.  It was quite a gourmet sandwich made from leftover smoked beef brisket but once I had made it I couldn’t figure out how to transport it to my dining table.  I tried wrapping it in a paper towel but couldn’t hang onto it while holding onto the crutches and it fell on the floor, happily still wrapped up.  Then I put it in waxed paper and tried sticking inside my tee shirt, but it fell out!  So much for passing the pencil test then, I chuckled to myself.  Then I put it in a ziplock baggie and held it in my teeth, like a dog.  Utterly hilarious.

When my sandwich was done, so was the osso bucco and I let it cool a bit on the stove before packing it up for my friend’s place.

On Sunday, D___  made a gorgeous pot of polenta with lots of butter and cheese, and we reheated the sauce first to thicken it a bit then added the meat and carrots to warm up. While it was heating I chopped up a huge mound of gremolata, the magical mixture of garlic, lemon zest and parsley that is scattered over the top of the osso bucco and livens up the dish.

Osso Bucco dinner
(once you make gremolata you will want to put it on everything)

Another friend made a beautiful salad of avocados and ripe tomatoes and brought some tomato basil bisque to start.

Osso Bucco dinner

Osso Bucco dinner
(from the Unsafeway, delicious!)

We sipped on Prosecco then rose, while the young man in the house enjoyed his milk in a wine glass.

Osso Bucco dinner
Osso Bucco dinner
(there is a huge mound of cheese-laden polenta under that sugo!)

There was a moment during dinner where the conversation just halted and we all felt so replete and blissed out.  Having a luxurious and hearty mid-day meal on Sunday was so pleasant and relaxing, it was the perfect moment.  Afterwards we chatted and played games and I knitted a bit while the sun streamed in the window while the room was chilled by the Pacific breezes.  We all felt really happy!  Mission accomplished!

 

Next weekend, tacos!

Recipe:  Overnight Osso Bucco

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Happiness Is… This Month’s Meat CSA

Happiness is…..my beautiful butcher’s bag from 4505 Meats monthly meat CSA.

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  • a quart of lamb stock
  • chicharonnes
  • chicken livers
  • bone-in beef rib eye
  • harissa-rubbed sirloin medallions
  • pork rib chop
  • chicken apple Calvados sausages
  • ground beef
  • harissa-rubbed flapskirt

    This month I specifically requested a selection of meat suitable for grilling plus I asked for chicken livers, and it was so nice of them to accommodate me. Other than making my mom’s pate de maison and a steak with macque choux I haven’t really mapped out what I’m going to cook with my meat allotment this month.

    I also scored another amazingly tasty treat.

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    Magic Bacon Bombs!!

    Magic Bacon Bombs are the 4505 Meats’ version of crack: queso and chorizo stuffed jalapeno poppers wrapped in bacon. Kaboom.

    I bought the last of them last weekend and they haven’t made anymore but when I called today about picking up my meat CSA Nicholas very kindly agreed to make me some more.

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    It was fun to chat while they finished assembling them for me and then they wrapped them up for my trip home. The drawing was a hilarious touch!

    Usually one puts them on the grill and cooks them until the bacon is crispy, but since I live so very high above the street with no grilling facilities, I will do them up in the oven and in my humble opinion they’re even more delicious.

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    Fantastic…

    It will be fun to plan out my my menus. I have friends coming over this month and plan to put my broiler to good use.

    Please remember to support your local butcher, particularly if they are like 4505 Meats and purchase pasture-raised whole animals and butcher them nose-to-tail.

    Get your own meat CSA!

    Farmers Market Day and Red Cooked Pork Belly

    My favorite Saturday activity, when I don’t have a pajama day, is heading to the farmer’s market with a friend to shop and to have a little something tasty for brunch or lunch.

    We stopped at the Italian butcher first, Guerra’s Meats, where I scored a fat ribeye, breakfast sausage, some cheeses and milk, for another $30. I like getting my weekend protein first, then filling in with vegetable and other items from the el cheapo farmer’s market.

    This weekend I spent $20 at the farmer’s market, including my fantastic huarache el pastor lunch. A huarache is a bean filled masa dough pancake, shaped like a football, and topped with something meaty with the perfect amount of salsa, crema and a handful of chopped cilantro. You can buy them at La Palma Market on 24th Street if you don’t go to the Alemany farmer’s market.

    A huarache was the perfect lunch, leisurely nibbled while sitting on a tiny clear spot of a loading bay next to a nice farmer’s truck. It was good to rest a bit after doing all of our shopping and to kick our heels against the back of our cement perch like we were little kids again. For some odd reason a diet soda tasted awfully nice but as it was a rare treat for me I just enjoyed it (mostly) without guilt.

    String market bag

    My new knitted string market bag performed superbly, I could not believe how much it held, and how nicely everything stayed. It was stuffed with broccoli, obscenely large leeks, the freshest green onions I had ever had the pleasure to hold, pale green zucchini and yellow ball zucchini, a huge bunch of mint and rosemary, crimini and ugly shiitake mushrooms, enormous yet light sourdough English muffins and cranberry walnut bread. I should have taken a picture of it stuffed and outstretched but still comfortable and incredibly stylish on my shoulder.

    (If you would like to make one of your own, please visit The Inadvertent Redhead)

    I have enough food for breakfasts, lunches and dinners for the entire week and probably into the next week, supplemented with more protein from my freezer.

    After unloading my friend’s groceries at her place and doing some menu planning while petting her pretty cats and slugging back the necessary glass of red wine, I headed home and started cooking.

    My huarache was quite filling but around 4:30 pm I made a snack of Humbolt Fog cheese and the cranberry walnut bread. With my pollinosis the cranberries were a little troublesome but not enough to dissuade me from eating the bread. I started on a pot of red cooked pork belly.

    The pork belly was trimmings from the Mangalitsa pork I bought a while back. I had to trim the raw pork belly so that it would fit in my brining bags and the excess, uneven pieces were about 2 pounds. The red cooking, or a slow braise in a soy, Chinese rice wine, ginger, spices and garlic broth, is a traditional way to cook pork belly and other fatty meats. It couldn’t be simpler, I put all of the ingredients in my 5 quart pot, brought it to a boil, covered it and simmered it until the meat was super tender. The aromas it generated as it simmered were amazing, I felt full just by being in the kitchen.

    After 2 1/2 hours and another 10 minutes of cooking on high to reduce the sauce I poured off the fat and decided I was too full to eat anything so into the fridge it went!

    Sunday morning I dined fabulously well on a huge toasted sourdough muffin, one side buttered, one side smeared with raspberry jam, and a handful of tiny Italian breakfast sausages.

    Meantime, I cooked the ribeye in some bacon fat from the red cooked pork belly and sliced it thinly for work lunches. The bok choy I brought home from work on Thursday was quickly steamed and given a light dressing of oyster sauce and chilled. The pale green zucchini and yellow squash were cut into planks along with some onion, the rosemary and some lemon zest and olive oil and roasted until just crisp-tender. They were packed into a tub for the fridge. The mushrooms were sliced and browned in my biggest and yet too small skillet, the last slosh of port in the bottle went in along with some dried herbs from last summer and a bit of butter. This was packed up with the sliced steak.

    Getting quite tired of the kitchen by now, I steamed some basmati rice and wondered what happened to the bag of jasmine rice I bought a few weeks ago, a desultory search in the pantry and auxiliary pantry bags did not yield it. Huh…. I made myself a little bento lunch of rice, the jade green bok choy and the red cooked pork belly.

    Bento

    Later in the the week I’ll roast the broccoli for lunches and make a leek and bacon pasta. I might make a pizza one night with some of the zucchini. I also have some frozen ground pork which would be wonderful stuffed in the ball zucchini.

    It was really fun prepping good food for the week and I enjoyed my domesticity. I also washed up the kitchen and dumped the trash and did some hand laundry. The vacuuming didn’t get done nor did the dusting but I will fit that in some night when I don’t have an extracurricular activity.

    I sunk into my comfy Martha Washington chair with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc and some knitting and mindless television before going to bed. It was a fun and productive weekend, nourishing to the body and soul.

    REC: Red Cooked Pork Belly

    (printer friendly)

    3 lbs. of fresh pork belly, cut into cubes
    3 pieces of palm sugar or 1 1/2 ounces rock sugar
    3 pieces of whole star anise
    3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
    1/2 tsp. five spice powder
    3″ piece of fresh ginger root, sliced into 1/2″ medallions – no need to peel
    2 T light soy sauce (this is less salty than regular soy sauce)
    3 T dark soy sauce (I use Tamari)
    1/4 cup Shao Xing wine – or a white vermouth
    2 cups chicken broth – low sodium is best
    1 bunch of green onions – whole

    Place the pork and all of the other ingredients into your heaviest pot with a lid or a Dutch oven, my 5 quart Le Cruest pot was perfect for this dish.  Bring everything to a boil, stir and cover with a lid.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 2 1/2 hours.  Test the pork, it should be very, very tender when pierced with a fork.  

    Remove the lid and simmer over medium high heat for 10 minutes, stirring, to thicken the sauce.  Pour off the fat and remove the ginger, anise and green onions and compost them.

    Serve with plain rice.  Serves 4-6.

    Menu Planning

    I came home from Thanksgiving with my darling parents and found that my refrigerator door was left ajar about 2″. Horrors! The great dumping and clean-out commenced on Monday night after work and then my fridge was sadly empty except pickles, hard cheese and wine. Time to shop and for menu planning!

    D___ and I went shopping together this weekend and I discovered a few shops that I must frequent in the future . A terrific butcher shop on Taraval reminded me of our beloved long-gone Quilici’s, and the lovely guys there helped me with grass fed beef stew pieces, nicely marbled and hefty for $7.99 a pound. They also had terrific dried pastas in shapes like lasagnetti and mezze penne.

    Next was the wonderfully inexpensive Asian market with perfect, organic produce and Eastern European dry goods and dairy. You have to love a shop that sells Ak Mak, Bulgarian feta, Russian sour cream and my favorite salsa and chips, plus gigantes beans. I splurged on two huge produce crates filled with groceries for $77.00. The clerk insisted I take my haul away in boxes because they were free, never mind that I can’t really carry one box, let alone two, but they were free, and bags cost $.10! One should never argue with the clerks, they’re savvy, budget wise.

    Somehow D___ and I staggered into my apartment with everything in one trip. We filled my dining table with food, and I started my menu planning in earnest over a cappuccino.

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    Meals For The Week:

  • Beef Bourguignon ~ inspired by Mastering The Art of French Cooking
    1. beef, fresh shiitakes, carrots, onion, celery, tomato sauce, red wine, garlic, leek top bouquet garni, chopped parsley. Served with farrow.
  • Chicken Stew ~ inspired by George Bradshaw
    1. chicken thighs, carrot, onion, fennel, bay leaf, chicken broth, dill, roux, white wine,sour cream. Served with jasmine rice
  • Gigantes Plaki ~ from Modern Greek
    1. Great white beans, onion, garlic, tomatoes, parsley, bay leaf, oregano, feta, squirt of lemon at the end. Add shrimp, perhaps?
  • Sautéed Greens
    1. Chard, dino kale, watercress, garlic, lemon olive oil. Serve with quinoa. Breakfast option.
  • Coconut Rice Pudding ~ inspired by Wing Wings
    1. Bomba rice, coconut milk, sugar, sea salt
  • Green Salad
    1. romaine, orange bell pepper, green onion, fennel, avocado, feta, balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, Lodi olive oil.
  • Red Beans and Rice ~ inspired by Country Cajun Cooking
    1. Pink beans, andouille sausage, tomato, onion, green onion, bell pepper, celery, garlic, Aleppo chile, Sriracha, beef stock, jasmine rice.
  • roasted Corn Salad
    1. Corn, artichoke hearts, edamame, olive oil, lemon juice, tarragon
  • Salsa and Chips ~ post shopping nibbles
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    Lately I have been preferring to eat my main meal at lunchtime and have something lighter when I get home with a glass of wine or tea. Some of these entrees are also destined for the freezer for when I lack the energy to make something simple.

    I also have a few items in the pantry and freezer that need to be slotted in somewhere:

  • pork truffle butter and crackers
  • adjvar and crackers
  • pork rillettes
  • butternut squash
  • As the dishwasher purrs along, I started poaching the chicken and chopping the vegetables for that stew, and realized I’m tired and want a bubble bath. I’m taking a glass with me to the tub while the carrots, onion and fennel simmer slowly. I’ll finish the stew for supper tonight and cook the greens for breakfast.

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    It feels nice to be home with the fridge stocked, good smells perfuming the air and a good meal plan for the next little bit.

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    I’ll make sure the fridge door stays closed!

    P.S. Thanks to Laura of Hey Mom What’s For Dinner for the inspiration to plan a batch of meals

    Slow Roasting a Thick Cut of Meat

    Lately I have been buying wonderful T-bones from 4505 Meats, both beef and pork cuts.  Their email newsletter advertises from time to time specials on aged grass-fed beef or local pasture-raised pork cuts from a whole animal that they age and butcher themselves.  The meat quality is divine.

    But when one is presented with a 3″ or 4″ hunk of steak or monster pork chop, how on earth do you cook it?

    Here’s my foolproof method that turns out meat that is perfectly cooked from edge to edge with a nice crispy sear on the outside.

    I must say that this method is completely counter-intuitive to what I have been taught when preparing and cooking a steak but it is so simple and never fails.

    Step 1:  Bring Meat to Room Temperature and Season

    Here is the two-pound beef T-bone from 4505 Meat that I cooked a week ago – what a massive steak!

    Before - @4504_Meats

    It was about 4″ thick and a full 11″ long hunk of luscious, 28 day dry aged grass-fed beef.  Talk about gorgeous meat!

    I patted it dry and placed it on a plate and seasoned it with a dry rub.  My dry rub had powdered smoked red onions and a dried chipotle from Tierra Vegetables, a powdered shitake mushroom, all of which I blitzed up in my food processor,  then added sea salt, pepper, rosemary and thyme from a friend’s garden and some paprika.

    For the pork T-bone that I cooked on Sunday I used a dry rub that came from Golden Gate Meats, which had dried onion, paprika, orange peel, sage and some other herbs.  I added salt and pepper to the pork steak first, then the dry rub.

    The meat came to room temperature snuggled under its savory seasoning for about an hour, meanwhile I preheated the oven to 275 F.

    Step 2:  The Slow Roast

    Once the oven was hot and the meat was at room temperature I placed it on my roasting pan and anointed it with some olive oil and bunged it in the oven.  I set the timer for 45 minutes and started some potatoes to roast in my convection oven.

    After 45 minutes I checked the temperature of the meat with a digital thermometer.  I was looking for 125 F for the beef which is for a medium rare steak.  For this particular steak I roasted it for a total of 55 minutes.

    The pork T-bone also weighed 2 pounds and roasted for 65 minutes until it reached 135 F.

    Step 3: The Sear

    I heated up my largest skillet under medium high heat and added a good splash of grapeseed oil and watched the oil until it started to shimmer.  Using tongs I placed the steak in the pan to sear quickly on all sides, including the fat side and the bone side.  It took about 2 minutes per side to get a nice deep brown.

    Here is the pork T-bone getting its sear.  Can you see the thick fat ring? It was 2″ thick of glorious pure white fat.  Later I removed the fat and rendered it down for other nefarious purposes.

    It's huge! Browning the fat side first.

    Once the meat had achieved the deep golden brown color I was looking for it was time for the final step.

    Step 4:  Resting the Meat

    This may be the most important step in any meat cookery, letting the meat rest.  I removed the T-bone from the skillet and set it on a heat-proof plate and rubbed the top with a thick dab of unsalted butter.  I set a sheet of foil lightly on top of the meat, not sealing it with the foil but just letting the foil rest on top.  Then I set a timer for 10-15 minutes and walked away; I had a glass of wine and left the kitchen while the meat rested.

    Whatever you do, do not poke, prod, cut or otherwise molest the meat while it is resting!   Just leave it alone!

    When meat is cooked under direct heat the juices rise to the outside of the meat.  If you cut open the meat without resting it the meat will look dry and almost dull in appearance by the time you get to the halfway point of consuming your portion.  If you let the meat rest for the appropriate period of time, the juices have time to redistribute themselves to the center of the meat, ensuring a juicy and perfectly pink interior.

    This resting stage can take 5 to 10 minutes for a normal steak, up to 20 minutes for a chicken and 30-45 minutes for a large roast such as a prime rib cut.

    If you feel that the meat has cooled too much during the resting process, I have a trick to fixing that.  I melt butter until it is very hot and then pour it over the cooled meat, just a tablespoon or two will do the trick.  It will warm up the meat just enough and adds so much flavor.  If you have ever wondered why the steaks at an expensive steak house taste so good, a lot of it is due to this final application of butter. If you have maitre d’hotel butter then more’s the better (I will post this recipe soon).

    When the timer went off I dashed to the kitchen and grabbed my carving knife and voila!  Perfectly cooked meat!

    After- 4505_meats

    Feast your eyes on this perfect steak. It is medium rare throughout the entire cut, a perfect rosy pink and super juicy. You can see the rich fat on this beef T-bone and there is no grey ring or unevenness of any kind.  It is a meaty miracle.  I was too hungry on Sunday to snap a picture of the pork T-bone but it was pale pink, extremely juicy and tender, everything a perfect chop should be.  And I ate it *all*.

    This slow roasting cooking method is perfect for apartment dwellers like myself, or for cooking perfect steaks in the dead of winter when grilling outside is not an option.

    So don’t be afraid of ruining a whacking great cut of meat like these monster T-bones, it is really foolproof and I guarantee your steak will come out perfectly.

    Resources:

    4505 Meats
    San Francisco Ferry Building
    Saturday market between 8 and 2
    Thursday market between 10 and 2
    Shop online at 4505meat.com

    Golden Gate Meat Company
    Retail shop at the Ferry Building
    goldengatemeatcompany.com (catchy song too!)

    Pop Tart Prowl

    Sometimes an event comes along that you just can’t say no to, I mean, how can you turn down a pop tart?

    Eating pop tarts has been a pleasure reserved for my adult life only. Growing up my mUm never allowed such things in the house, not that I felt deprived mind you, considering her baked goods and my own creations were far superior to a dubious box of fat, sugar and preservatives from the store.

    Last year while languishing on my dearest friend L’s couch in front of a crackling fire in the wilds of Santa Fe (and I mean it when I say wild. The coyotes were circling the house that night and the Great Horned Owls were crunching away on the gravel on the roof, it was mind-blowing.) my dear pal asked me if I wanted a pop tart. It was 10:00 pm, we were watching silly movies and had consumed ridiculous portions of posole not all that long ago. Naturally I said yes and a few minutes later she delivered into my grasping hands a serviette with a steaming hot toasted apple cinnamon pop tart. It was flaky, with a well seasoned fresh tasting apple filling with plenty of cinnamon. We promptly had one more each and some tea and then just as promptly zonked out on our respective perches like a pair of tired toddlers.

    Later, I was delighted to learn that the pastries came from Natures Path and that they were organic and pretty clean otherwise. My guilt felt assuaged somewhat but in my heart of hearts I missed my Mom’s jam turnovers, my childhood pop tart equivalent. I have never attempted them because of my dread fear of rolled dough but this is something I plan to rectify soon.

    So fast-forward to the present day and to my meeting the tres charmant Rachel Saunders and her incredibly lush book on jam. Rachel created the Blue Chair Fruit in the East Bay and has been making and selling her incredible jams at various farmer’s markets in the Bay Area and online. I lucked into a copy of her newly released book and it is well littered with post its and slips of notes of the recipes I plan to try and photos I just cannot stop gazing upon. Her book has taken up permanent residence on my lap and I cannot wait to tell you more about it (soon!).

    A local eatery in Berkeley announced they were having a pop tart party using Rachel’s jams and that she would be there in person to sign her incredible book so naturally I inked that invitation into my calendar and was delighted when my pal Luna of Luna’s Kitchen Magic said she could join me. Who better than my sister-friend, a trained pastry chef, to accompany me on a quest for pop tarts.

    This Saturday, a bus trip, a BART train, another bus and a long walk later, we arrived at Summer Kitchen Bake Shop‘s door. It was most definitely worth the effort to get there to see the darling Rachel again, and to eat pop tarts! We received a warm greeting but Rachel had a line of eager fans waiting to chat and over her shoulder I spied trays of pop tarts so we sidled by and headed to the cashier.

    We ordered one of each of Summer Kitchen’s pop tart creations to munch along with a cup of Blue Bottle coffee for me and an omlette sandwich for the both of us.

    The eatery is adorable, high ceilinged and a long counter in front of the grill with a few tables in front on a charming stretch of College Street. We snagged a few stools at the counter and began watching the show, our sides warmed by the pizza oven that anchored the end of the space. It was really challenging to perch like vultures and watch the grill cook make plate after plate of gorgeous sandwiches knowing we couldn’t order everything.

    But first we gazed upon the gorgeous pop tarts. Look. Drool. Don’t you wish you were there?

    The sweet pop tart had slices of the first of fall’s new crop of Fuji apples topped with Blue Chair Fruit strawberry jam, drizzled with royal icing and dashes of sugar sprinkles. The savory pop tart was filled with Blue Chair’s spiced tomato-bourbon conserve and goat cheese, and topped with shreds of Parmesan. Holy cow! They were simply fantastic. Flaky, thin, buttery pastry, still warm from the oven, pleasantly plump with the fillings and so tender. My toes were wriggling with delight as I nibbled slowly, trying to make them last, washed down by the mother’s-milk of Bella Donovan blend from Blue Bottle. I was beginning to regret only ordering two to share.

    Meanwhile, our deft grill cook had crisped thick slabs of my personal local favorite bacon from Golden Gate Meats, slivered an avocado and turned out a perfectly blonde curling shell of a four egg omlette awash with fresh herbs and butter into a soft torpedo roll. Why have I never thought of an omlette sandwich before? It was ridiculous, as Luna is fond of saying.

    Nirvana.

    I was distracted by the sight of the pastry chef making more pop tarts. Scrutinizing her technique and taking notes we watched her roll out sheets of pastry, top with the juicy apples and dollops of ruby red jam. How I coveted that huge bottle of jam! Behold, the birth of a pop tart.

    While they were baking the grill cook made tiny sliders of beef patties topped with blue cheese, piled them into a torpedo roll slathered with tarragon aioli and heaped with mounds of steaming mahogany caramelized onions, slices of pink heirloom tomatoes and handfuls of wild arugula. I am smitten.

    Sadly, most of pictures did not come out. The cook was grinning at me shyly as I tried to capture the action, occasionally pausing to let me snap a shot. Now more than ever I wish I had a camera!

    Then, to my right, the pastry chef pulled out a huge tray of naked chocolate cupcakes and scooped huge spatulas full of cream cheese frosting into her KitchenAid to fluff up before piping it into graceful spirals on the cakes. Our seatmate, a precocious 5 year old, scored a spoonful of frosting, lagniappe from the chef, lucky thing. The chef scattered chocolate pearls on top of the cupcakes and popped them onto pretty cake stands. If only I could have eaten more!

    Then the grill chef began making crispy chicken sandwiches and grinned when I piped up that bacon and avocado would go well with that sandwich, and more of that custard yellow aioli. I realized I wasn’t the only one watching the action. Intently peering through the counter and offering play-by-play was a young man, perhaps 10 years old. Young Jerry is a foodie in the making, he was commenting on the aioli and I explained what that was. He smacked his lips. We watched another burger torpedo being prepared. He hadn’t tried that one, he explained, and sidled over one stool closer to me. I remarked that I hoped the grill chef would make a chicken sandwich again, and then he did! Amazed, Jerry asked how did I know the cook was going to do that? “Magic”, I said, and grinned, then Jerry asked me if I played cards, like Pokemon… His dad laughed and asked Jerry to return to his seat and they finished their pop tarts. Little Romeo!!

    Luna and I watched as another batch of fruit pop tarts got their slathering of icing and sprinkles and sadly bid the cooks adieu.

    We were delighted to meet in person Charlene Reis, the owner of Summer Kitchen, with whom we had been chatting incessantly on Twitter, and made plans to have a craft night soon. Rachel introduced me to her charming husband and helped me select jars of her jams to take home. I was thrilled to score the last jar of the spiced tomato-bourbon conserve and we agreed bourbon was a magical ingredient, like vanilla, but better. I exclaimed over my last purchase of Rachel’s blood orange marmalade and told her how that jar, which I bought at her book signing at Omnivore, disappeared in two days with the help of an Acme herb slab, Manchego cheese and some prosciutto, quite possibly the best sandwich I have ever invented. Another jar of Rachel’s three fruit marmalade got stowed away in my bag and Luna and I made our farewells.

    We strolled down the street and stopped into a sweet shop, several card shops and then to our next stop, Ici.

    Ici is an ice cream shop that has an impressive pedigree, its owner worked at Chez Panisse no less, and they usually have a line several store fronts long. Somehow we chanced to be there at just the right time with no line and popped in for a scoop. I chose the lemon ice cream with pinenut praline and an ocean of hot fudge. The combination of creamy lemon and rich fudgy chocolate is truly magical. Luna hit one out of the park with her choice of pear huckleberry sorbet with burnt caramel sauce (picture here). We plopped on a bench in front, another minor miracle, and thoroughly enjoyed our little treat.

    As we were leaving I noticed their decorations of crocheted ice cream cones and vowed to knit some soon.

    We planned next to visit Amanda’s on Shattuck and decided to work off our breakfast by walking there.

    Just like Calvin Trillin we decided to have a snack before lunch and stopped into Crixa’sCakes for tea and pastries.

    Fall has arrived in Berkeley and I was regretting my sandals but was grateful for my new leaf-green velour fleece jacket. We sat outside at an iron table as leaves scuttled by on the cobblestones, sipping our steaming Moroccan mint tea and stunning Hungarian pastries. The Hungarian version of pirogue was very good, how can you go wrong with buttery pastry filled with potato, cheese and dill?

    We fought a fork-dual over the last bite. Divine! But then we split a pastry amusingly called Fatima’s thighs. More of the buttery, flaky pastry was curled around a rich filling of walnuts, julienned apples, currants and scented with orange flower water, then heaped with powdered sugar. I dusted off my pants which were liberally dotted with sugar and was transported to a memory of eating beignets with a dear beau in steamy sticky New Orleans. We used to laugh that I should never wear black around powdered sugar, something that would have come in handy at Crixa’s!

    Another reason to visit Crixa is a street sign pole outside that has been yarnbombed, it is just so adorable.

    Awash in tea and feeling all buttery we continued our stroll through Berkeley, marveling at the odd fall clouds in the sky, a building decorated with sculptures of sea life, pots of tomato plants tucked away into doorways, and the unusual people who populate the area. It is so pleasant to stroll with a friend, to be able to walk without rushing. Luna slipped a small sack into my bag, a Springerlie cookie from Crixa, what a treat! We exchanged thoughts about soul mates, shared stories of our siblings and tales about ravens and crows as Brother Crow cawed above our heads.

    Our next stop was Stonemountain & Daughter Fabric shop, a place awash with the cutest, kitchy fabric. An entire row of bolts was devoted to food designs and we danced down the aisle singing the Coconut Song, imagining an apron made with a coconut pattern and lime fabric for pockets. I could not resist a few yards of an adorable mushroom fabric. We are taking a sewing class there in a few weeks, and I will make myself an apron to cheer up my kitchen during our drab SF winter. Suddenly we imagined ourselves buying most of the store’s stock and sewing up creation after creation!

    The imaginary budget depleted we headed out to Amanda‘s for their house-made spicy ginger aid and a crunchy garden salad. I was tempted by their array of spiced nuts, burgers, sweet potato fries and sodas but couldn’t manage another bite. Luna crunched her salad and shared her ginger ale, which was exceptional.

    To my surprise it was nearing 4:00 pm! We visited the pretty library for a small break and then meandered to Trader Joe’s for dinner fixings. I treated myself to a rib eye and ingredients for a pizza dinner another night. How does pizza made of naan with smoked Gouda, Asian pear and prosciutto sound? I thought I needed to make a pot of caramelized onions next week too, and buy bags of sweet onions.

    Lugging our goodies to BART, we luck out and the next train was in two minutes, and I was home in a half an hour. I quickly stowed my groceries before sinking gratefully down into a chair to slip on thick wooly socks and settle on the settee for a nap. Five hours later I woke up! Completely missing dinner means I can indulge in steak and eggs for Sunday breakfast!

    It was great to explore a new area and have home-made pop tarts and all the other treats that day. I plan to borrow a friend’s kitchen soon to make jam from Rachel’s adorable book, and to make pop tarts perhaps on my next Girl’s Night In. Stay tuned!

    …………………………..

    Resources:

    Blue Chair Fruit
    Jam, jam classes and the Blue Chair Jam Cookbook here:
    http://bluechairfruit.com/
    Also at the Temescal and Grand Lake Farmers’ Markets

    Summer Kitchen Bake Shop
    2944 College Ave, Berkeley, CA 94705-2204
    Open Daily 9am-9pm
    (510) 981-0538

    Ici
    2948 College Ave, Berkeley, CA 94705
    Open Daily
    (510) 665-6054

    Crixa Cakes
    2748 Adeline Street, Berkeley, CA 94703-1205
    Open Tue-Sat 9am-6:30pm
    (510) 548-0421

    Stonemountain & Daughter Fashion & Quilting Fabric
    2518 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94704-2722
    Hours: 11am – 5:30pm
    (510) 845-6106

    Amanda’s Restaurant (Feel Good Fresh Food)
    2122 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, CA 94704
    Hours: 11am – 9pm
    (510) 548-2122
    http://www.Amandas.com

    The Saturday Ritual

    I have a lovely Saturday ritual. The upside of routinely getting up early (yay, employment!) is that even on Saturdays I am up at the crack of dawn. Most Saturdays I hop on the bus and head down to the farmer’s market at the Ferry Building.

    The first step of my ritual is to wait in line for a cup of Blue Bottle coffee. Their regular coffee is dripped to order and it is divine: rich, not bitter, and perfect with just a sprinkle of sugar. Once fueled, I scope out what looks good in my favorite stalls, sometimes making a few quick purchases, before heading to Primavera for breakfast. I always seem to order their chilequilas, scrambled eggs and those heavenly refried beans. After the requisite people-watching and agua fresca slurping is complete I finish my shopping and, heavily loaded and in need of a Sherpa, I grab a macaron from Miette before hiking to my bus stop.

    But some days I change up my routine and conduct a tour for In The Kitchen With Lisa. I have been having a blast being an official culinary concierge for Lisa. I really enjoy meeting new people and sharing my knowledge and love of the Ferry Building and the farmer’s market is just a natural fit for me.

    A recent tour was particularly fun as my guests were locals who wanted a more in-depth experience of the market. We sampled our way through the delights of the Ferry Building and then prowled and sampled our way through the stalls in the outside market. I shared with them my favorite vendors and discussed what was in season and many options on how to use things in their cooking at home.


    We were treated to a talk by Mark Pastore of Incanto on the salumi at Boccalone.

    After the tour I kept running into my guests as they explored the market on their own and shopped at the stalls we visited together. I also met several people I know and it gave me such a sense of belonging to a small town or a community instead feeling like a lone bean rattling around in the vast barrel of the city.

    But after my tour I wasn’t in the mood for my usual breakfast and was lured instead to the joys of the Roli Roti cart and their seductive porcetta sandwich. The lines were fearsome but friendly.


    The buskers were pretty good though, singing hip blue-grass kind of ballads.


    My fellow line-mates were entertaining too.  This little girl was determined to pet the friendly dog, I think it was her first effort and the dog was patient, albeit bemused.


    Finally I can order my porcetta!  But I also order the roasted potatoes too.  They have been bathed in pork and chicken fat and juices, and are tender, crispy and pretty heavenly.


    Watch the porcetta roast! and check out the potatoes below. Who could resist?


    And Behold! Isn’t it beautiful? I love the micro-arugula. And that the chef always heaps my sandwich full of extra crispy pork skin.

    I <3 you, Chef. And your porchetta too!
    I ❤ crispy pork skin too! and you too Chef!


    After my porcetta was devoured and I managed to tidy up my hands and face, for dessert I ate one of the white peaches from Frog Hollow, pure heaven.


    It was almost a sink-peach. You know, where you need to eat it over a sink because the juice runs down your arms into the sink? It is hard to choose what most represents summer to me, the bounty of luscious tomatoes or a perfect peach.


    With my usual charm and waving about of my iPhone, I prevail upon my bench-mates and they let me photograph their lunch before they even take a bite. Here is a Prather Ranch hot dog in an Acme roll.


    The Prather Ranch pulled pork sandwich almost made me regret my porcetta. Almost. Even with a bite gone it is still a thing of beauty.


    A self portrait, wind blown and happy and full of porcetta.


    I did a little shopping, and scored a club roast from Marin Sun farms, and the beautiful peaches from Frog Hollow.  The peaches became my first batch of fruit ice cream, and the roast was rubbed in chopped herbs from Eatwell Farm and roasted in my new porcelain chicken roaster, a lovely birthday gift from dear A___.


    A peek into my market bag. The lemon verbena was intoxicating!  Our delayed summer resulted in spring onions still being available in September.  They went in whole into my roaster with the beef.


    Even at 2:00 pm the market was packed full of people. It was a gorgeous day down by the Bay. Closer to the Roost, however, the fog was thick and chilly. You can see it blowing by the clock tower!  I think the Embarcadero was the only sunny spot in the City that day, certainly by the time I came home it was socked in and blowing Force 10.


    I love this sign, it is indeed the understatement of the year.


    Now, really, I have *no* idea what a Mog is, just another of the fun sights along the way in the City by the Bay.


    Finally at home, I unpack my market bag and spread it out all over my kitchen table; what a plethora of plenty!


    Veggie porn…


    These are freshly dug fingerling potatoes from Green Gulch, part of the Zen Center.  They supply Greens Restaurant with their vegetables and it is always a joy to be able to partake of produce of this caliber.


    Dahlias, dahlin’, from Green Gulch.  I really need to plan a visit there soon.


    I managed to bring the peaches home intact.  After a bath they went into the fridge to chill as part of the ice cream prep.


    From Green Gulch I purchased a bouquet of tea herbs.   There is spearmint, lemon verbena and a mystery herb with pretty purple flowers.  They rested in my champagne flute while I finished unpacking and washing my produce.


    This beautiful herb is borage.  It can be used in herb tisanes, infused into cream for ganache or minced and sprinkled over an heirloom tomato salad.  I am beginning to learn more about how to use borage, how do you use it?


    In my family, after any strenuous event, shopping or just for an afternoon pick up we have a tradition of having tea.  After my busy morning and bustling about at home playing with the fruits of my shopping, I was in dire need for a restorative tisane.  I rinsed the tea herbs in cool water, took half of them and placed them in my Pyrex pitcher with a small squirt of raw agave and poured over water fresh off the boil.  After 5 minutes the infusion was ready.  What I did not finish was stored in the fridge for a cool chilled tea later.  You can also gently rewarm a cup in the microwave as a relaxing sip before bed.


    Finally, my cup of tea and some of the herbs for that night’s roast beast.

    I hope you enjoyed following along with my Saturday ritual, please do share yours!

    A Giant Day

    Last Saturday was a perfect day to romp through the city and enjoy the pleasures that can be had in San Francisco. My dear sis came for a visit, and after a cup of coffee we headed to the Ferry Building where we promptly got on line at Blue Bottle for more.

    Waiting for an individually brewed cup of drip coffee takes forever, especially when you catch a whiff of that alluring coffee aroma wafting over the long line and my thirst for a cup of coffee kicked in with a vengeance. To alleviate the wait I dashed over to Arlequin’s stall and purchased a beignet filled with a maple cream and bits of bacon. Whoa!! I have long been a fan of their beignets, which are more like the Italian version of the filled donut with a granulated sugar coating. This maple custard filled creation was a great example of the versatility of silky pastry cream, and the salty, smokey bacon chunks really offset the sweetness of the pastry. My sis wouldn’t touch it and I think she’s beginning to realize the depth of my bacon addition. It is a good thing I don’t work near Arlequin any more, that could be dangerous. And, yes, I *am* ignoring the fact that it is technically within walking distance of The Roost!

    After that first squishy sugary-savory bite and when the world resumed its revolutions around the sun our coffee was ready. We perched on a bench, inhaled the steam rising off the surface of our cup and took that deeply rich sip and said to each other, “Life is good….”

    As we enjoyed the brew, we could only admire the produce on sale that day because we had other plans that afternoon. It is such torture to only look and not bring anything home. The Zen Center’s stall is right by the front coffee stand and I was touched with the perpetual care they take with their produce, even post-harvest. The produce was gently arranged, misted, rearranged and talked to in a loving manner. One worker wore a flower behind his ear, another dipped her face into a bouquet of flowers, then into a nosegay of herbs, like a giant butterfly. Their newly dug potatoes were gorgeous and plump and I made mental note to get some next week without fail.

    We wound our way along the side of the Ferry Building, past the Fatted Calf and their temping rillettes, behind the Roli Roti truck (I had to physically restrained from joining the line for a porcetta sandwich) and onwards to the rear of the market. We had a rendezvous to dine at the Primavera stand.

    The line to order and the wait to pick up the food at Primavera seems intermidable but there is so much going on around you that time seems to pass quickly.

    We quickly scoped out the available seating and through some miracle scored two seats at a nice table. Eventually, the orders were ready for our chilaquiles, scrambled eggs and refried beans, and we also treated ourselves to two luscious pale pink cups full of agua fresca – watermelon and lime juice this time. Some people pray before they eat. I take pictures. Not only do I take pictures of my food but I impose upon the graciousness of complete strangers and take pictures of their food too! Our table-mates had porter beer batter fried fish tacos, and allowed them to be photographed before they took a bite. Despite the succulent appearance of those tacos I am never disappointed by ordering the chilequiles. They make their own tortillas by hand, fry them up into chips, and then use a variety of dried chiles to make a rich sauce, which is tossed with the hot torilla chips. This is a mere side dish to the fluffy, buttery scrambled Petaluma eggs, intensely rich frijoles and their signature chipotle salsa.

    After breakfast and the mandatory stroll through the rest of the market and a macaron from Miette, we strolled down the Embarcadero to the ballpark, passing by the new space port for the city.

    I tried hitching a ride but alas, takeoff wasn’t for a few decades!

    We arrived at the park extremely early as it was a bobblehead day, and not just any bobblehead, but Joe DiMaggio bobblehead day! Although we arrived at 1:15 (for a 6:30 pm game), the line to enter was already to the little dog park. We plopped down on the sidewalk to chill out and wait for the rest of the group, and a sweet dog, Destiny, jumped into my lap. She was the sweetest pup ever and made the long wait a lap-full of fun. She loved AB____ too!

    Three hours later the line was past the pier way down the road and despite the fun of waiting (haha) we were so happy to get in the park early with armfuls of the coveted toys. Because it was Italian Heritage Day, and all my friends in attendance are Italian, our special treat from the Giants was a limited edition Joe DiMaggio bobblehead, so we ended up with two! It is fun being in the park early, the players were having batting practice on the field, the sun was still out, but just briefly, as the fog was imminent. It is my tradition to stroll along the Promenade level and enjoy the action. The kids play in the mini ballpark, scoot down the slide shaped like a soda bottle, loyal fans angle for fly balks in the bleachers, strong armed hunks try pitching and you can stuff a Teddy bear. I would rather stuff myself and after our long walk and longer wait breakfast seemed a long time ago. We passed the Shiboygan brat stand and I charmed my way behind the scenes to snap the Onion Man, grilling onions and kraut for our dinner later.

    A little break was in order and we found a cafe table behind the scoreboard and enjoyed chatting with other fans and our friends while quaffing Belgian white beer with orange slices and fried local calamari. Only in San Francisco!

    A view from our seats, and Barry Zito warming up.

    If only our team had played as well as our hot dog tasted. But there is always tomorrow, and it was fun to sit with AR and celebrate her birthday, as well as my sis’s!

    Truly, a Giant day!

    Perfect Reception

    When I moved into my beloved Russian Hill apartment years ago, my sis gave me some essential cookbooks, one of which has become a go-to favorite. George Bradshaw was an amazing contemporary writer and in the 50’s he began to write about food. His 1969 book, Suppers and Midnight Snacks, became a novel of sorts for me. I would curl up in a quiet corner and imagine myself preparing his suggested menus while holding a martini and dressed in an elegant caftan. It was the 70’s after all, back when Doris Day and Dinah Shore were the penultimate hostesses. An updo, a caftan and a long cigarette holder were the gracious hostess’s costume of choice.

    Over the years I have tried many of George’s recipes and still yearn to try more of them. I especially adore the chapter titled Lonely Pleasures.

    “With any luck, one spends a certain amount of time alone. This means of course that you eat alone, and can indulge any outrageous taste you secretly harbor. The pressures are off, there is no home economist or gourmet looking over your shoulder – unless of course, you have the misfortune to be one yourself – and you can let go.”

    Better words have never been spoken, George, although I secretly wish you had titled this section Solo Pleasures. As one who has the pleasure of indulging meals at home singularly I prefer not to emphasis the lonely aspect.

    His writing is highly amusing, especially where he goes on to describe all the things one can do whilst dining alone, including reading a novel, watching the sun set (obviously he never lived in foggy San Francisco), and telephoning.

    “…I have a friend who calls me up the minute she begins to eat celery – the reception is perfect…”

    Amusingly enough, and coincidentally, I too have a very dear friend who does exactly the same thing. We will be chatting along on various fascinating but mundane topics, and then Crunch, Crunch, Crunch!!!

    “What are you eating, now?” I ask with an underlying chuckle, and think of this book. She will reply, “Celery” or “Tortilla chips with guacamole” or, like yesterday, “Bok choy from the garden. I’m pruning it before the gophers do.”

    I recall to her memory this chapter in the book and we break off into peals of laughter, interspersed with crunching. Naturally.

    In this chapter is a section of cooking one can do during a rainy Saturday to prepare oneself for the week or weeks ahead when, alas, the servants have departed, never to return, and yet one needs a decent meal after a long day.

    George prescribes, and I have frequently followed his sage advice, preparing a variety of entrees that can be cooked and bagged into portions and frozen, but that have panache: crepes, beef stew, and chicken in a veloute with artichokes.

    One of my favorites is what he calls Chop Chops. They are a purée of flavors suspended in gelatin and then frozen, to be added into soups, sauces and sautes for a little como se yama zing.

    My favorite book

    If for no other reason, you must obtain this book, and read this chapter. The story on truffles still has me in stitches. Although it is long out of print, one can find a decent copy on Alibris. And then you can thank me later.

    CHOP CHOPS

    2 envelopes of unflavored gelatin
    1 c H2O
    6 cloves of garlic
    3 medium onions (I use white)
    1 bunch of watercress
    10 sprigs of parsley (Italian or flat leaf)
    Juice of a large lemon (or 2 Meyer lemons)

    Special equipment: four mini ice cube trays – if you can find silicon ones that would be ideal, for reasons explained later. They are 1/2″ deep and each makes 90 cubes.

    Melt the gelatin in the cold water, then heat gently to dissolve it. Allow to cool. Peel the garlic and the onions and chop roughly. Cut off the stems of the watercress and the parsley and use the leaves for stock another time.

    Place all ingredients into a blender and purée until you have a beautiful jade-green purée.

    Pour the purée into the mini ice cube trays and freeze overnight or until solid.

    Now comes the tricky part. Unless you have silicon mini ice cube trays, no matter how you flex the trays, apply hot wet towels or curse at them, the cubes will not easily part from the trays. This has to do with the gelatin. However, if you use a very sharp small knife and score around the edge with the tip, then plunge the tip down into the tray the green chop chops cube will pop right out.

    Store immediately in an airtight ziplock bag. You will have enough chop chops to last an entire year, or to share with a friend!

    To use:

    • Add a cube to a saute pan in which you have pan fried chicken breasts or a little piece of filet of sole, add a little white wine for an instant sauce.
    • Do the same but with red wine for sauteed beef medallions.
    • Makes a wonderful sauce allowed to thaw and added to homemade (or store bought) mayonnaise for dipping steamed artichokes or a dressing for asparagus or lightly sauteed fish.
    • Add four cubes to a pot of soup or stew, they will provide almost all the seasoning you need.
    • Melt with butter or olive oil and serve over fresh summer squash or any sauteed vegetable.

    The uses are endless and it is amazing what a great flavor one little cube will add.

    Summer in My Kitchen, in January

    Finished pepper

    It has been raining almost non-stop for over 12 days, but today the sun peeked out and I felt like celebrating! When you need a bit of sunshine in your life, there is nothing better than eating a savory stuffed pepper for dinner or lunch. The combination of bright, happy peppers, savory meat and rice, tender vegetables, aromatic herbs and a touch of lemon make any gloomy day instantly illuminated with Mediterranean sunshine.

    Sunny Stuffed Greek Peppers

    4 red bell peppers (or orange or yellow or a combination)
    1/2 # ground beef or lamb or pork (I used beef today)
    1/2 c olive oil
    1 yellow onion, chopped – divided
    1 clove garlic, minced
    1/2 c brown rice (I like TJ’s brown rice medley)
    3/4 c cold water
    1 tsp. Kosher salt, divided
    pepper
    1 zucchini, diced
    2 carrots, diced
    1 rib celery, diced
    1 large tomato or 1 c cherry tomatoes, chopped
    1/3 c fresh dill, chopped
    1/3 c fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
    1 tsp. dried mint (or 1 T fresh, chopped)
    1/4 c pine nuts
    1/2 c plus 3 T dry white wine or vermouth
    juice of half a lemon
    a handful of small fingerling potatoes

    Prepare the peppers:

    With a sharp knife cut off the tops of the peppers, ensuring a good 1/2″ of flesh is included with the top. With a small paring knife cut out the core and ribs, being careful not to cut through the fleshy wall of the pepper. Use a grapefruit spoon to remove all pith from the ribs and bottom, and also from the underside of the caps. Season inside with salt and pepper and set aside.

    pepper collage
    (eating foods with bright colors like these peppers is really good for you)

    Make the rice:

    In a small saucepan, add a teaspoon of olive oil and saute half of the onion, the celery and the carrot with 1/2 tsp of salt until soft. Add rice and water, stir and cover and cook 35 minutes. If you are using a different kind of rice be sure to adjust the cooking time, 20 minutes for long grain, up to 55 minutes for brown rice; arborio is also a nice rice to use).

    Make the meat mixture:

    In a skillet, add a teaspoon of olive oil and saute the other half of the onion and the ground beef or lamb until the meat is cooked through and the onion is soft. Add the zucchini, tomatoes and herbs, salt and pepper and saute for 5 minutes. Add 1/2 c of the white wine and cook for a few minutes more until most of the liquid has evaporated but a tablespoon or so remains. Add pine nuts and remove to a bowl. When rice is done, add to the meat mixture and combine well. Taste for salt and pepper and adjust as needed.

    filling collage
    (you can see the steam rising off the filling! If you have a little extra filling as
    I did today, it is lagniappe for the cook, yeah….)

    Stuff the peppers:

    Use a covered dish that will hold the peppers snugly. I’m so lucky to have a Le Creuset tomato shaped pot perfect for the three peppers I was using for this recipe. I also have one of those Corning Ware covered casserole dishes with a glass lid that is the right size for 4 peppers. If you don’t have a dish with a lid, a pie plate or tart pan will work just as well, it will need to be sealed tightly with aluminum foil.

    Add most of the olive oil to the pot, reserving a little for drizzling on top.

    Hold a pepper in your hand and spoon the filling inside, filling it well and mounding it slightly. Place the stuffed pepper in the pot and repeat until all the peppers are filled. Fill the empty spaces in the pot with the small fingerling potatoes. If your potatoes are larger than mine (the largest was the size of my thumb), then cut them into wedges and place in the openings.

    Drizzle the top of the peppers and potatoes with the lemon juice and the 3 T of wine. Place the tops back on the peppers, drizzle with the remaining olive oil. Place the lid on the pot (or cover with foil).

    Picnik collage

    Bake at 350 F for 1 hour.

    Serves 4 for dinner, or 8 as a first course. If you are serving them for 8 people, halve the peppers instead of cutting off the tops (leave on the stem for effect, fill them and arrange in a casserole pan). Each serving gets a few potatoes on the side.

    It is an excellent idea to have a slice or two of crusty bread to sop of the juices, a bit of feta cheese and some bitter greens (like arugula) also on the plate. If you like olives they would be a good addition to the party.

    finished peppers

    As I sit down tonight with my plate of stuffed peppers, just for a little while I will pretend I am in a villa in Greece, and hearing the ocean on the shore below me instead of the rain crashing against the window.

    ευθυμίες!