on the road again

we are in our favorite city for the holiday. it's one of our favorite cities for so many reasons but mostly for the food and food related things. we've been to the ferry building multiple times already, had lots of blue bottle coffee, eaten here and here and done some great shopping. but one of our absolute favorites is town hall,where we ate this evening. it's always a treat! we are doing all the cooking on thursday and are heading to farmer's market in the morning to get as much as we can. getting excited to start cooking the more we look at the menu! we'll definitely try to post some pictures of the big event but i hope you all have a wonderful thanksgiving. for now, enjoy the amazing antique collage at town hall and the beautiful view of the bay bridge from just across our window.


biscotti di noce

biscotti is one of the first things i remember learning how to bake. i grew up watching all the great PBS cooking shows with my mom on Sunday mornings with chefs like Martin Yan, Jeff Smith and Mary Ann Esposito. i have made this biscotti recipe from Mary Ann's Ciao Italia for years and years and years. i eventually changed things around to add chocolate, candied ginger, dried cranberries and loads of other additions but in the end this recipe is my go to for a simple breakfast or after dinner biscotti. it is the perfect addition to a great cup of coffee on a cold morning, afternoon or evening!

Orange Almond Biscotti

3 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup sugar
2 1/2 tbs unsalted butter, melted
1 orange, zested
1 tbs vanilla
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/3 cup sliced almonds
1/3 cup dried cranberries
preheat oven to 350 degrees F. beat eggs and sugar in a medium bowl until thick and pale yellow. beat in butter, orange zest and vanilla. sift flour and baking soda into egg mixture and stir well. add almonds and cranberries and stir until combined but still sticky.
spread dough on greased sheet pan to a flat loaf about 13.5x7.5-inches and bake for 20-23 minutes until firm to the touch. remove, cool and slice into 1/4-inch thick slices. return to the oven for 6-8 minutes per side.



so we have an overflow of lemons, which can never be a bad thing.  I love lemons in so, so many things.  my grandma used to make her lemon meringue pie so tart it would make me pucker!  my favorite pound cake recipe is from a great friend and mentor rori trovato.  it's in her book dishing with style.  best part of the cake is the orange zest and orange flower water for a subtle hint of citrus.  serve a slice of cake with a dollop of lemon curd and fresh whipped cream for a deliciously simple dessert.

Orange Pound Cake with Lemon Curd

pound cake:
5 eggs
1 tsp orange blossom water
1 tsp vanilla
zest of 1 orange
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temp
1 3/4 cups sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups cake flour
preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  grease a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan and line bottom with parchment.  whisk together eggs, orange blossom water, vanilla and zest.  with an electric mixer, cream butter, sugar and salt.  add egg mixture slowly and scrape down sides of bowl.  on low, add flower in two batches and mix until fully incorporated.  bake 70-75 minutes until set and lightly brown.  cool for 10 minutes, remove from pan and cool completely on wire rack.

lemon curd:
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tbs lemon zest
pinch of salt
5 eggs, beaten
combine sugar, butter, lemon juice, zest and salt in a heavy saucepan.  stir over medium heat until butter melts and sugar dissolves.  remove from heat and gradually whisk in eggs.  return to medium-low heat, whisking constantly, until thickened.  pour into a new bowl to cool.  chill overnight in bowl with plastic wrap directly on surface.


longing for napa

as promised, here are some more shots from napa a few weeks back.  the editing has been fun as we think napa is such an amazing place and we want to go back now!!  this goat is one of four on the property at medlock ames winery that roam the vineyard to eat the weeds and keep the vines neat and clean in between growing seasons.  the ice cream is from the amazing three twins ice cream in the oxbow market.  please read the story of their organic ice cream if you get a chance.  and lastly, the chef from solbar restaurant at solage in napa.  it's an outtake from shooting him with his garden boxes, where he grows some veggies and herbs to use in their local and sustainable menu.  oh how we miss napa, can someone please hire us to go up again soon...thanks melissa...


rancho gordo

several months ago a friend told me about these great heirloom beans out of napa and then i started reading about them everywhere and knew i had to get some. on our recent road trip, i found anasazi beans and posole at the fatted calf and then bought this at a local bookstore. i usually buy beans in a can and can't be bothered with soaking anything overnight but i must admit i am now a believer. there are many other great types of beans and recipes that i'm excited to explore but here is my first attempt with rancho gordo.

Chicken & Posole Verde

1 cup dried anasazi beans (somewhere between a pinto and kidney bean)
1 cup dried posole
1 bulb garlic, cut in half, not peeled
2 onions, peeled and roughly chopped
10 tomatillos, husked, rinsed and quartered
2 pasilla chilies, seeded and roughly chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic, smashed
2 tbs olive oil
2 cups chicken stock
1 tbs white wine vinegar
1 lime, juiced
1 tsp ground cumin
1-2 tsp cholula or mexican hot sauce
2 chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
for garnish: cilantro, sour cream, avocado, green cabbage

soak beans and posole 4 hours or overnight and drain. in separate pots, cover beans and posole with water and add 1/2 garlic bulb and 1/2 onion to each. cook until tender, drain and set aside.
preheat oven to 350 degrees F. on a sheet pan, combine tomatillos, one onion, chilies, garlic and olive oil and toss to coat. roast until softened and a little charred, about 40 minutes. cool completely. in a blender or food processor, puree roasted vegetables until smooth.
in a large pot, combine pureed tomatillo sauce, chicken stock, vinegar, lime juice, cumin and cholula. add chicken, cooked beans and posole. bring to a simmer and cook until chicken is done. stir in cilantro and serve with optional garnishes of more cilantro, sour cream, diced avocado and shredded cabbage. enjoy!


scallops & slaw

this dish is full of great flavors and leaves you with a little hint of spice on your lips. a spoonful chili garlic paste in the marinade provides the kick and it is an ingredient that you must have in your cupboard! look for sambal in the asian ingredient isle of the market or specialty store and use it in sauces and marinades for scallops, shrimp, pork and chicken. i'm not a big spicy person but am constantly trying to be. this is one spice i actually love because it's not too hot and leaves an amazing flavor in your mouth.

Seared Scallops with Fennel Apple Slaw

1 tsp fish sauce
1 tbs sesame oil
1 tsp hoisin
1/2 tsp sambal chili garlic paste
6 scallops, tough muscle removed from side
1 bulb fennel
1 granny smith apple, peeled
1 bunch scallions, chopped
1 lime, juiced
1 tbs rice wine vinegar
1 small bunch cilantro, chopped
1 tbs olive oil
salt and pepper

In a small bowl, combine fish sauce, sesame oil, hoisin and sambal. Add scallops and toss to coat. Marinate for 30 minutes.
On a mandolin, finely slice fennel and apple. Combine with scallions, lime juice, vinegar, cilantro and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
Heat a saute pan over medium high heat and add a little oil. Season scallops with salt and pepper and sear scallops until nicely browned, about 4-5 minutes on each side.


guinness is good for you

in need of a winter stew that takes just about as much effort as drinking a guinness itself?  step right up.  a cure for all those busy winter days is a trusty crock pot.  we probably only bust it out 4-5 times a winter, but when we do we always enjoy the ease and wonderful result.  and when any dish has the words guinness, beef and puff pastry in the ingredients, you know your in for a good one.  enjoy this irish inspired winter treat.

Beef & Guinness Pie

2 lbs boneless beef chuck, fat trimmed & cut into 1-inch cubes
2 tbs flour
olive oil (for browning beef)
2 tbs tomato paste
2 tbs dijon mustard
4 cloves garlic, smashed
3 carrots, peeled & chopped
2 onions, chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped
3 parsnips, peeled & chopped
8 fingerling potatoes, chopped
1 beef bullion cube
3 sprigs fresh thyme
6 leaves sage, chopped
20 oz stout, 2 bottles or 1 1/2 cans Guinness
1-2 tbs cornstarch (optional)
2 sheets puff pastry
1 large egg + 1 tbs water

Combine beef and flour in a large ziploc bag and shake to coat. Heat oil in a large frying pan. Shake excess flour from meat and cook beef until nicely browned on all edges. Add tomato paste, mustard and garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes and set aside. Combine all vegetables, beef bullion, herbs and reserved meat in a crock pot. Cover with beer and a little water if needed. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. If broth has not reached desired thickness, take about 1/2 cup broth and whisk with 1 tbs cornstarch. Stir into crock pot and let thicken, repeat if necessary. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spoon stew into ovenproof bowls and top with squares of puff pastry, pressing down to seal. Brush with egg wash and bake 14-18 minutes, until pastry is puffed and golden.


design sponge

mmm,  crispy ham and cheese breakfast polenta! here's a fun new recipe we created for the wonderful people over at design sponge for their weekly post "in the kitchen with." for the complete recipe and more photos look here. thanks to grace and all the people at design sponge for their beautiful blog filled with great design and daily inspirations!


everything but the kitchen sink

one of the many perks of our profession is leftovers. sometimes i'll come home from a shoot with grocery bags full of leftover ingredients and then need to figure out what to do with twenty onions, two acorn squash and five boxes of fresh thyme. soup! better yet soupe au pistou with some crusty bread to soak up the flavorful broth on a cool autumn evening while watching the presidential election results and enjoying a nice bottle of pinot noir. pistou is just like pesto but without the pine nuts and adds great flavor to any vegetable soup. hopefully you'll use whatever random ingredients you have in your pantry to make some soup soon too!

Leftover Soupe au Pistou

5 sweet italian sausage, removed from casing
2 medium onions, chopped
2 carrots, peeled & chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
3 zucchini, chopped
1 acorn squash, peeled, seeds removed and chopped
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
3 sprigs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
3 cloves garlic, smashed
about 6 cups chicken stock (or half stock & half water)
1 14.5 oz can chopped tomatoes
2 cups cooked brown rice

In a large pot, saute sausage until brown. Drain and set aside. Saute onion, carrot and celery 5 minutes until soft and then add zucchini and squash. Cook 5 more minutes and then add rosemary, thyme, bay leaves and garlic and cook 1 minute until fragrant. Cover with stock, bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Add cooked sausage, tomatoes and brown rice and simmer until you're ready to eat. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve with a spoonful of pistou and grated parmesan cheese.


salting, smoking, curing, cooking

once in a while you come across a place in your travels that just makes you feel a little better. in this case, it was a place that made us feel a lot better.  these pics are some outtakes from a story we shot last week of the fatted calf in napa, ca, a place that you can only fall in love with.   i guess i should re-state that, if you are a meat eater, this is a place you would fall in love with. the product they serve is not only plentiful, but is top, top quality.  everything we tasted was off the charts tasty, the service outstanding, and had the feel of old time butcher shop with a modern twist.  from home made cured meats to ready to go home duck confit.  if you are ever in downtown napa and are near the oxbow market, take a peek at this perfect charcuterie heaven.