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Springy Black Cod

Springy Black Cod

Spring is springing loud and clear in California - here's a tasty riff on a classic Miso Cod dish. It's very therapeutic to shell the peas - it feels like sloughing off the winter coat (especially the one that feels like a 2yr Covid winter coat)

Ingredients

1 lb fresh black cod fillets (divided into four equal portions)

2 cups fresh, shelled English peas, blanched (can substitute frozen peas)

1 cup chopped spring garlic

1 pound shiitake mushrooms

1 tbsp mirin

1 tbsp white miso

½ teaspoon rice vinegar

½ teaspoon toasted sesame oil

Sesame oil

2 tbsp unsalted butter

Salt and pepper to taste

To make the topping, preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Slice mushrooms, toss with some sesame oil and place on baking sheet.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast until nearly dehydrated, about 25 minutes.  Once cooled, place in food processor and add ½ cup spring garlic, mirin, miso, vinegar and toasted sesame oil.  Pulse until a smooth paste is formed.  If it is too think, add a little water or mirin to thin until desired texture is reached.

Place cod fillets on baking sheet, skin side down, season with salt and pepper, then roast in 400 degree oven for about 15 minutes until firm but not flaky.

Meanwhile, melt butter over medium heat in sauté pan and add remaining green garlic.  Cook for about one minute, then add peas and cook, stirring occasionally until heated through.

Arrange four warm plates and place peas in center.  Top with cooked cod, then scoop mushroom mixture and dollop on top.

Serves four as an entrée.

 

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The Life of an Inventor - a follow up

It's been a while since I've ruminated about The Life of an Inventor and small business owner - the joy, the ecstasy and yes, sometimes the PAIN of it all.  I realize it's been three years since we talked about the trials and tribulations of having an idea and the cost of taking it through invention, patent and launch. The last few weeks however have pushed us more than most so it was time to put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard.  Continue reading

Ahi, Cepe SnackAttack

Ahi, Cepe SnackAttack
The last few Friday nights, our soon to graduate Senior has abandoned us to hang with her buds - I can't blame her, we all did the same when we were 17 and we didn't have a pandemic to process. When she gets home, however, she loves to grumble about what her Dad has made and what we've been eating when she's gone but really more about what deliciousness she has missed. This is a perfect example of one of those stellar appetizers, so good it may make the grade for New Year's Eve dinner - her 18th birthday. I've a feeling she won't be grumbling that night. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did/do. For the recipe  Continue reading

Six Wines Under $15 - February Edition

Six Wines Under $15 - February Edition

Here goes the second installment of affordable yet lip smacking wines under $15.  Please remember taxes and prices change per state so we can't vouch for the price in your state but suffice to say these are all delicious and a GREAT value! 

Download a printable list HERE

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Winter Radicchio Salad with Balsamic Drizzle

Winter Radicchio Salad with Balsamic Drizzle
If there's a season, there's a salad.... By now you've probably realized we like salad. Winter definitely offers challenges in this regard but that doesn't stop us. Radicchio is a much loved vegetable in Italian cooking and we've even grilled it but it really shines in this salad raw with basil, balsamic and parmesan. As usual it is a quick and easy recipe. We hope you enjoy it as much as we do.
One head radicchio  Salt and pepper to taste
½ cup fresh basil leaves, torn ¾ cup fresh grated parmesan cheese
Balsamic vinegar ¼ cup toasted pine nuts (optional)
Extra virgin olive oil Drizzle of 25 year old balsamic vinegar (optional)
Sherry vinegar

Cut radicchio in half through the core, then slice into ribbons from top to core and place in large mixing bowl.  Tear basil into small pieces and add to bowl.  Stir to combine.

Add enough oil to barely coat the salad, one to two tablespoons.  You can always add more if you need it.  Stir to combine.  Add ½ tablespoon of sherry vinegar and 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar.  Toss to combine and taste.  You may need to add more balsamic depending on size of radicchio head.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Add pine nuts, if using, and ½ cup parmesan cheese, then toss again to combine. 

Place salad in serving bowl, or separate onto individual plates.  Dust the top with remaining parmesan cheese and add a small drizzle of aged balsamic if desired.

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Six Wines Under $15 - January Edition

Six Wines Under $15 - January Edition

For over 20 years Walt and I enjoyed all the benefits that came with being wine professionals. From lavish meals at five star restaurants to drinking some of the world's best wines in some of the prettiest vineyards. We could wax lyrically with the best of them about the pluses of a fine Burgundy, Bordeaux, Chateauneuf du Pape or Single Vineyard Old Vine Zinfandel and we bartered with many fellow professionals swapping great finds. However, the benefit we probably miss the most is being able to buy expensive wine at drastically reduced prices (often wholesale)!!

When you've been a wine professional as long as we have, it can be hard not to drink quality wine all the time but we all have limits and in our case a kid's college payment looming. So can you drink quality wine at affordable prices? With a little bit of knowledge and a good relationship with your local wine store you can (our local fave is Bottle Barn in Santa Rosa, CA). We'd like to share some of our value finds with you. Today we're going to start monthly recommendations of 6 wines, all under $15 (taxes and prices change per state)

So to kick off January's recommendations we're choosing three whites and three reds, all of which we drink and/or share with friends regularly. We highly recommend, if you don't have one already, finding a local wine store where you can build rapport with the wine professional. Once they start to understand your palate and what you like, it will be easier for them to make recommendations you'll love.

If you know what you like already, we hope our selections broaden your horizons and if you're a relative novice, we hope they'll help get you started, The good news is, they're all delicious and affordable - a winning combo. 

Download a printable list HERE

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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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