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Ahi/Hamachi Napoleon

Ahi/Hamachi Napoleon
This is one of our girl's favorite dishes, feel free to substitute any kind of sushi grade fish. 
 ½ pound Sushi Grade Hamachi 1 tbsp fresh lime juice
½ pound Sushi Grade Ahi 1 tsp rice wine vinegar
1 avocado 1 tbsp sesame oil
3-4 radishes Edible flowers   
12 won ton skins (round or square) Canola oil
¼ tsp grated fresh ginger Sea salt
2 tbsp soy sauce
Add canola oil to medium saucepan.  Fill to 1/2 inch deep and place on medium heat.  When oil is hot and shimmering, fry won ton skins one at a time. Drop into oil to cover.  Using tongs, submerge until it becomes firm, then flip over and submerge until golden brown.  Remove from oil and place on paper towels to cool and remove excess oil.  Repeat for all 12 skins.

Mix sauce by combining ginger, soy, lime, vinegar and sesame oil in metal bowl.  Whisk to combine and set aside.

Prepare fish.  Remove skin (if present) and cut into ¼ inch cubes.  Please into large ceramic mixing bowl, then cover and keep cool in refrigerator. 

Dice radishes and cut avocado into small cubes (similar size to fish).

Assemble.  Remove fish from refrigerator, then add radishes and avocado to bowl.  Whisk sauce again, then add to bowl and stir to combine thoroughly.  Add salt, if needed, to adjust seasoning.  Set out four plates and place one won ton skin on each plate, then place fish mixture on top in an even layer.  Add second skin, then more fish mixture.  Top with third skin, then divide remaining fish mixture between the four plates on top of last layer.  Sprinkle flower petals over top to garnish.

Serve immediately.  Serves four.  Pair with a crisp Gruner Veltliner.

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Cherry Pie

Cherry Pie

This is a riff on a pie my Mum used to make when we were kids, though in Ireland she'd often make it with apples. After living in California now for over 20 years, I've come to really appreciate the delicious cherries we have in abundance in late June and July and I like to put them with my yogurt in the morning. I simply can't get enough during the short season. I also like to make this when we have guests. Seems appropriate I'm sharing this on My Mum's birthday and that it's National Cherry Day. She would have enjoyed this pie. I hope you do too. 

For Pastry

8oz plain flour

Pinch of salt

6oz Butter

1 tbsp caster sugar

1 egg yolk

2-3tbsp Water

Sift the flour with a pinch of salt into a mixing bowl. Drop in the butter and either cut it in with your fingers or with a Cuisinart until the small pieces are well coated and the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs (I go the lazy route). Stir in the sugar, mix egg yolk with water, tip into the fat and flour and mix quickly either by hand or in a Cuisinart to form a firm dough. Knead lightly until smooth. Split dough in half and flatten to thick discs. If possible, wrap in clingfilm and allow to rest for 30minutes in the fridge.

For Pie Filling

2tbsp Cornstarch

2tbsp water

7 cups cherries pitted

1/2 cup sugar

1tbsp Vanilla Extract

While dough is resting combine the cornstarch and water in a bowl stirring to dissolve the cornstarch until liquid is milky.

Set 5 cups of Cherries aside.

Take remaining 2 cups of Cherries and puree in a blender. Don’t stress if there are still some cherry chunks. I always check to see how sweet this is and adjust sugars based on this (I prefer to taste the natural fruit so generally keep the sugar low)

Combine the puree and sugar in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Don’t forget to stir often so the bottom doesn’t burn. Once the mixture has reduced to 1 ½ cups, reduce the heat to medium low and stirring constantly add the cornstarch/water mixture. Bring to a boil, stirring and cook until the mixture is translucent again.

Remove from the heat, spoon a little of the puree onto a plate and let cool. Then rub it between your fingertips to feel for any remaining starch granules. Transfer the filling to a medium bowl and stir in vanilla extract. Let cool completely.

Heat oven to 400ºF. While the fruit mixture is cooling take dough discs out of fridge and allow to come to room temperature. Roll out the first disc to the size of pie plate with a little extra leftover. Place on pie plate base and cut around to remove excess dough. Use your finger to apply water around the edges. When fruit mixture is cold Stir the puree into the remaining whole cherries and add to the plate leaving edges clear so the top of the pie can adhere to the edges where you’ve applied the water. Roll out the second disc and either put on top as a plain pie top or cut strips to make a lattice effect. If a plain pie top be sure to pierce tops of pie to allow steam to escape. Pinch edges together with thumb and finger to connect both top and bottom. Brush the top with a beaten egg. Put on the top rack of oven and bake for 20 minutes. Lower the heat to 375ºF and move pie to center rack and bake until the crust is golden and the filling bubbling (20-30minutes). Transfer the pie to a cooling rack and allow to cool.

The pie is best after resting for 2-3hrs and up to 3 days if refrigerated. It can be reheated in a 325ºF oven for 15minutes if you prefer it warm. Also delicious served with Vanilla Ice Cream.

 

 

 

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Fava Bean and Burrata Crostini

Fava Bean and Burrata Crostini

1 Baguette

1lb Fava Beans

1tsp lemon juice

Salt

Olive Oil

1 tub Burrata 

Zest of half a lemon

 

Heat oven to 400degrees Fahrenheit. Slice baguette thinly. Spread slices out on cookie sheet and spray with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown on both sides. Heat six quarts of water over high heat until boiling.  Shell Fava Beans and set aside.  Prepare an ice bath.  When water is boiling, add kosher salt and return to boil.  Add Fava Beans.  Bring back to boil and cook until outer skin begins to crack.  This will vary from 30 seconds to a couple of minutes depending on the freshness of the fava beans, but do not boil longer than three minutes.  Remove with slotted spoon and immediately submerge in ice bath. Remove Fava Beans form their outer skin and set on a paper towel to dry slightly.  

Puree these Favas with 1tsp of lemon. Drizzle oil while blitzing the Favas so they get to a thick hummus-like consistency. 

Spread Fava mixture on the cool toasted bread, top with a dollop of Burrata and garnish with lemon zest that has been mixed with 1/2tbsp of olive oil. Lick your lips before drooling and dive in!

 

 

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Chile Crunch - ala Walt

Chile Crunch - ala Walt

We haven't been the best at keeping up our blog during the pandemic 🤦‍♀️ but as of April 2021 we're back at it sharing recipes and musings from Sonoma County's wine country as life slowly returns to some semblance of normalcy. We hope you'll enjoy them and maybe even make a few of the recipes.

 

My dad always had a giant vegetable garden.  When I was a kid, I remember shoving my hands in the dirt, planting plants, watering by hand and harvesting – the best part.  Well, maybe not the best part, as hanging out with my dad was the greatest.  Now, one would think with all of these home grown, organic vegetables that we probably ate like lords.  But alas, cooking the food was not a strong point.

Despite some unforgiveable food, it must have struck a chord somewhere as I now love to tend my own giant vegetable garden.  And, thankfully, years working in the wine business and the opportunity to taste fantastic food ignited a passion for cooking too.  I am very thankful to live in a place where those two things converge so beautifully.

Over the years, I have gone from planting every vegetable I like to only those that taste a million times better when they are home grown.  Think tomatoes, fava beans and, yes, celery.  Right now, the fava beans are nearly a foot tall, and my kohlrabi is starting to look like something other than a weed.  The herbs are booming with the spring sun and the blueberries are forming. 

In the next few weeks, I will start my tomatoes and my beloved peppers.  I always grow a small “hedge” of chile d’arbol.  I rarely use them fresh, except for the occasional fresh salsa, but I do dry them and use them all year.  Anytime I sauté onions, I throw a few in for an added dimension of flavor, I add some to the boiling water when I steam corn and I love using them in winter soups, especially my kale and white bean soup.

Then last Christmas, my dear friend Kyle sent me a lovely box from Momofuku.  In it were a couple of nice salt mixtures, but the real prize was the chile crunch.  My first instinct was to put some in a breakfast sandwich.  Perfection!  My second instinct, or rather the discovery that it was sold out and I could not order more, was to make my own version.  After several trial versions, I have now settled on my preferred method/blend.  And we have it on breakfast sandwiches nearly every Sunday.  I wish my dad were here to have one with us.  He would appreciate the home grown effort.

Chile Crunch (Inspired by Momofuku)

2+ cups neutral oil (I use sunflower, but grapeseed works too)

10 small shallots, minced

4 heads of garlic, peeled and minced

4 cinnamon sticks

5 star anise

½ cup crushed red pepper

2 large handfuls (or more for extra spicy) of dried chile d’arbol

5 tbsp soy sauce

2 tbsp coconut sugar

1 pack (1 oz) of roasted and salted seaweed snacks

4 tbsp toasted white sesame seeds

1 piece of ginger (about four inches), peeled and grated

Add oil to saucepan, then add shallots, garlic, cinnamon and star anise.  Add more oil to cover if not covered already.  Bring to simmer, then cook on low (bubbling, but not boiling) until shallots and garlic are golden brown.  This will take about 30 minutes depending on your stove.

 

Meanwhile remove stems from chile d’arbol and add to food processor.  Add seaweed.  Cover and blitz until everything is in small pieces.  Add to large heatproof mixing bowl, then add all remaining ingredients.

When shallot/garlic mixture is finished, strain hot oil mixture over mixing bowl holding other ingredients and let cool.  Once cool, remove the cinnamon sticks and star anise pieces.  Add shallot/garlic into other ingredients and stir to combine.


Let sit for a day or two to let flavors combine. Should mostly fill a large (32oz) jar

Add to eggs, soups, pasta, noodles…..anything! Our current fave is the Sunday Egg Muffin Sandwich mmmm...

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Wild Rice, Edamame and Cranberry, Almond Salad

Wild Rice, Edamame and Cranberry, Almond Salad

A longtime favorite of ours. We take it on most of our picnics as it's easy to transport and leftovers are just as tasty the next day. 

1/2 cup blanched slivered almonds

2tbsp White sesame Seeds

4 cups cooked Wild Rice

3 Scallions, thinly sliced (white and light green parts only)

2 cups Shelled Edamame

2 medium Carrotts peeled and diced

1/2 cup dried Cranberrries

3tbsp Olive Oil

2tbsp Sesame Oil

1/4 cup Rice Vinegar (more if needed)

Kosher Salt and freshly ground pepper

Place almonds in frying pan over medium heat and toast, stirring often, until golden brown (8-10mins - do not burn). Transfer to large bowl. Repeat with sesame seeds (2-3mins) Transfer to bowl with almonds. Add rice, scallions, edamame, carrots and cranberries. Toss to combine.

Whisk olive oil, sesame oil, rice vinegar and a pinch of salt and pepper in a medium bowl until combined. Drizzle over rice mixture and toss to combine. Taste and season as needed with more salt, pepper and vinegar. Cover and chill at least one hour. Makes 6-8 servings. We sometimes double to enjoy as leftovers as it really can last 3-4 days. 

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Burrata, Cherry Tomatoes, Pine Nuts with Balsamic Drizzle

Burrata, Cherry Tomatoes, Pine Nuts with Balsamic Drizzle

Who doesn't love creamy, dreamy Burrata? We opted to tweak the traditional way of serving it by using our yummy Sweet 100 tomatoes from our garden. Because of early Coronavirus lockdown we planted these cherry tomatoes early and already have a huge bounty.  Looking forward to enjoying this dish many more times in the next month.It couldn't be easier.

Ingredients

One ball of burrata cheese

2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved

2 tbsp toasted pine nuts

1 small clove of garlic, crushed

1 tbsp fresh, chopped basil leaves

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tbsp sherry vinegar

25 year old balsamic vinegar

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Method

In a small mixing bowl, stir together tomatoes, pine nuts, garlic, basil, olive oil and sherry vinegar.  Let rest for 10 minutes to combine flavors.

 

Place Burrata cheese on center of serving dish and score the top.  Spoon tomato mix around cheese and drizzle with aged balsamic vinegar.  Season with salt and pepper.

 

Serves 6 as an appetizer or side dish.

 

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Grilled Pizza - You select the toppings

Grilled Pizza - You select the toppings

One of our favorite family activities is making grilled pizza. In the middle of Quarantine it seems even more popular than ever and has become the highlight of the week. It's really affordable, the whole family can join in and its pretty darn tasty. We all have our favorites - Walt and I love the Radicchio and our kid loves the Pesto.

So here's how we do it. Ingredients are based on three of our faves, pesto, smoked mozzarella and vegetable primavera and lastly the smoked onion radicchio. 

1 ball of pizza dough (available at your fave pizza joint or at most gourmet grocery stores) This will make 3 pizzas. Don't worry about the shape it's all about the goodness.

Pizza One - Pesto

crushed garlic in olive oil mozzarella cheese
Pizza sauce (we make our own) but bought is perfectly fine Pesto Sauce (we use Kirkland brand from Costco)
Parmesan Cheese

Take original dough and split into three equal size balls of dough. Cover with a damp linen cloth and let rest for 20mins at room temperature. Take first ball and stretch out as far as you can without putting dough on surface but without tearing the dough. Use your knuckles instead of your fingertips at this stage.

 

Once you feel it is going to tear put on counter and continue stretching out edges using your fingertips. 

 

Next, lightly oil the back side of a large sheet pan.  Place flattened dough on top and continue pressing/stretching the dough until it is very thin, but not so thin that you can see through it.  Your dough is now ready for grilling!

          

We use a wood fired grill and about 2/3 of a chimney full of charcoal briquettes. Once they are ready, we pour them out on one side of the grill and add some chunks of mesquite wood to kick up the heat. Place dough on grill over medium high heat by turning the baking sheet upside down slowly. This can be cooked on either a gas or charcoal grill - we prefer charcoal because of the smoky flavor.  

Once dough is on the grill, you will see it start to puff up in spots.  After a minute or so, use longish tongs to move the dough around the heat to cook/char all parts of dough.  Once it has a deep color, but not burned, move to cold portion of grill and flip dough over.  Next, spread some garlic oil on the crust, then dollops of pizza sauce.  Don't use too much or it will get soggy.  Then add your other ingredients. For pesto pizza add tomato sauce, mozzarella and large dollops of pesto.

Slide dough back over the heat and turn frequently in a clockwise direction so that the bottom cook evenly.  Again, cook until it has a deep color but is not burned.  You will see the sauce and cheese begin to bubble.  If the crust is cooked, but the top is not bubbly, move to cold side of grill and cover for a couple of minutes to finish cooking.

Next, remove from grill onto a cutting board.  we use tongs and simply pull the pizza onto the board.  Let it rest for a minute or so before cutting and serving.

Pizza Two - Veggie Primavera

crushed garlic in olive oil grated smoked mozzarella cheese
Pizza sauce  various veggies, precooked but not mushy
cherry tomatoes whipped goat cheese

Follow all steps as before until flipping the pizza. Drop chunks of pizza sauce, sprinkle mozzarella liberally along with cherry tomatoes, asparagus, zucchini and return to the grill as before. After a few minutes remove from grill, add dollops of whipped goat cheese and let rest. Slice and serve.

Pizza Three - Grilled Radicchio, Smoked Onion and Aged Balsamic

crushed garlic in olive oil radicchio
1 onion  liquid smoke (about 2 tsp)
mozzarella cheese burrata cheese
aged balsamic vinegar

To prep for the pizza toppings you'll need to caramelize some onions, adding a little liquid smoke at the beginning. Chop the radicchio into bite sized pieces and saute in a separate pan. Set both aside. Follow all directions for prepping the pizza dough as above. After flipping pizza top with dollops of sauce, mozzarella, raddichio, smoky onions and dollops of burrata. Finish with a drizzle of aged balsamic. Simply SUBLIME!!

 

Our latest experiment was a corn, tomato and cotija cheese pizza. 5-21-2020

This one is shaped a bit like the state of California LOL! Delicious.

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Pasta Con Broccoli

Pasta Con Broccoli

This is a recipe I learned as a young 20something living in Boston and working at an Italian restaurant there. It was a frequent staff meal request. 

Ingredients 

3 tbsp Olive Oil 

3 large Broccoli

1 Onion

1 cup Cream

1/4 cup white wine

Parmesan Cheese

Red Pepper Flakes

Pasta 

Cut off stems of broccoli and dice. Chop onion. Pour Olive Oil in saute pan on medium heat. Cook onion until soft and translucent (not browning) add diced broccoli stems and soften. This should take about 10-15minutes depending on how small you have diced the broccoli. Once softened puree the broccoli onion mixture. Return mixture to pan and add cream on low to medium heat. Once sauce starts to thicken add wine and continue simmering until sauce like. Add in a sprinkle of red pepper flake depending on how spicy you like it.

Bring water to boil for pasta, salt the water. Add in broccoli florets from top of broccoli. Blanch for about 3 minutes in the boiling water until they change color or are cooked but not pulverized. Remove Broccoli and add pasta according to cooking instructions. When cooked remove and add to broccoli mixture. Garnish with Parmesan Cheese - YUMMM and so easy

 

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Open Faced Rock Shrimp Ricotta Ravioli

Open Faced Rock Shrimp Ricotta Ravioli

Ingredients

1 lb        Rock Shrimp (peeled and deveined), rinsed and patted dry

4             4”x4” pieces of lasagna noodles (Capellos Gluten Free Lasagna Sheets work great) cooked to package instructions

1 cup     Bellwether Farms Sheep’s Milk Ricotta (or similar)

2 cups   Baby Spinach

½ tsp     Meyer lemon zest

1 tbsp    Extra virgin olive oil

1 lb        Unsalted butter

½ tsp     Espelette pepper (or similar)

2 tbsp    Dry white wine

1 tbsp    Chives, finely chopped

               Salt and pepper

 

Method

In a small mixing bowl, stir together ricotta, olive oil and lemon zest until creamy.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

In a small saucepan, heat white wine on medium low heat until just simmering.  Add butter to wine in chunks of one tablespoon at a time, whisking constantly to maintain emulsion.  Once all butter is incorporated, add the Espelette and stir to combine, then add the rock shrimp, stirring to coat all pieces and increase heat to medium.  Stir frequently and cook through, about 3-4 minutes.

Pre-heat a large sautée pan over medium heat.  Add two tablespoons of butter mixture from the rock shrimp, then add spinach and cook until just wilted, stirring often, about 1 minute.

Meanwhile, spread a small amount of ricotta mixture in the center of four warmed plates to hold pasta in place.  Place one lasagna noodle on top of ricotta, then spread the rest of the ricotta evenly on top of the noodle between the four plates.

Divide the spinach among the four plates and place on top of ricotta.  Divide the rock shrimp evenly between the four plates on top of the spinach.  Season the rock shrimp with salt and pepper.  Spoon some of the butter cooking liquid over each plate as a sauce.

 

Garnish the top of each plate with chives and serve immediately.

 

Serves four as a heavy appetizer.

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