Friday, September 30, 2011

fall friday

I love this time of year. Doesn't everyone? After the languor of the summer, fall always feels so bracing and full of possibilities. This weekend, I'm particularly looking forward to:
Happy Friday!

Image via AllThingsStylish

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

dance wednesday

I missed ballet Monday evening because of a work event and couldn't make it up yesterday because I'd made plans to go to a fancy dinner for a friend who's moving to London next week. I'll have to make up class tonight and tomorrow in order to catch up- I don't want to fall behind when we're learning something new each week!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

oski bear

Earlier this afternoon, our friends Dave and Lindsay stopped in to say hi and brought their puppy Oski with them.

Sometimes I really wish I had a dog. 

tastes like fall

It's funny how people mark the start of fall. We went to Trader Joe's yesterday to stock up on groceries and when we went through the checkout, the cashier looked at our items and said "oh, we've got canned pumpkin back in stock? Must be fall." I also keep hearing people talk about how excited they are that pumpkin spice lattes have reappeared at Starbucks. 

Food does seem to be a big part of the reason people get excited about the change from one season to the next. And while the idea of drinking a pumpkin flavored latte makes me feel a little queasy, I do love making foods I associate with fall. 

Like pumpkin muffins.

This morning, I got up, braided up my hair, put on a soft sweater and fleece lined slippers and snuck into the kitchen to bake these muffins. Eaten warm with a cup of tea while watching rain fall outside, they tasted just like fall.

Recipe via SmittenKitchen with some modifications
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup canned solid-pack pumpkin (from a 15 ounce can)
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 nutmeg
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup raisins

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Grease muffin cups.
Whisk together pumpkin, oil, eggs, nutmeg, sugar, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl until smooth, then whisk in flour mixture until just combined. Fold in raisins.
Divide batter among muffin cups (each should be about three-fourths full), then sprinkle tops with cinnamon-sugar mixture. Bake until puffed and golden brown and wooden pick or skewer inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

salted caramel pudding.

Last night I got home from work and decided I'd make dinner- nothing incredibly fancy, just something good. I settled on lamb chops with pistachio tapenade, swiss chard gratin and cumin roasted carrots. Then for fun I decided to make a caramel pudding.

I am terrible at relaxing.

A few months ago, I went to a concert at the Fox in Oakland with some girlfriends. Before the concert, we all met for dinner at Flora. I ordered their famed caramel pudding for dessert and I can say that it was, hands down, one of the best desserts I've ever had. Ever since, I've dreamt about trying to recreate it (I don't get over to Oakland all that often) and yesterday I decided to try it out.

I got home around 5:30 and decided I'd make the pudding first so that it would have ample time to chill in the refrigerator. I had no idea what I what I was getting myself into.

Making caramel pudding is not fast. I spent the better part of an hour trying to get the caramel to dissolve into the milk and flicking bits of boiling hot caramel all over my kitchen with my whisk.

But eventually it all came together and after dinner we ate bowls of obscenely rich caramel pudding with dollops of barely sweetened whipped cream and pinches of fleur de sel. Totally worth it.

Recipe at Food52

Friday, September 23, 2011

have a colorful weekend

I've really been jonesing for some down time lately, so this weekend I'm trying to take it easy. Tonight, I'm going to make this for dinner and then spend several hours curled up on the sofa watching old episodes of Modern Family. Tomorrow I'm hoping to go for a nice long walk and check out the Mourners at the Legion of Honor. And really, that's all I have planned so far.

It feels great.

Image via bippity boppity boo

Thursday, September 22, 2011

sardines on toast

This first official week of fall has been a very full one. I spent the whole morning thinking it was Wednesday. Not exactly feeling my absolute sharpest at the moment.

I have ballet in an hour and earlier this evening I had my Human Pathophysiology class, all of which left me just enough time to dash home and throw together some sardines on toast for dinner. I don't think I've cooked an actual meal in two weeks.

These things happen.

Anyway, the weekend is nearly here and I think we can all be thankful for that.

Happy Thursday.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

open studio

One other cool thing I wanted to mention from this weekend:  Daniel's mother took us out to check out some of the Open Studios.

Open Studios represent a sort of a progressive art fair where you drove to various artist's studios around Napa and Sonoma. The first place we stopped was Beverly Wilson's studio. Her studio is lovely and unusual- she designed the space herself- and she happens to be a great friend of Daniel's mother.

After poking around Beverly's studio, we walked over to Carl Ciliax's show room.

Carl does bronze casting. Fairly amazing to see how involved it is as an artistic process.We visited one other studio and then crawled homeward- it was extremely hot- and sat out on the deck eating barbecue and drinking cold beer and wine. 

Monday, September 19, 2011

ballet tonight

Ho hum. Feeling very lazy and unprepared for ballet this Monday evening. Drinking lots of tea and hoping the caffeine will perk me up shortly.

the fremont diner

A few months ago, the Sage Cafe in Sonoma closed. I was crushed; they had, hands down, the best BLT I've ever had in my life. Something about the way they dressed the lettuce and the perfect crispiness of bacon. We used to stop there when we'd drive out to visit Daniel's parents in Napa and I always looked forward to it with a level of anticipation bordering on the unseemly. But now that it's closed, we've had to find a new lunch spot for those drives up from the city. 

I now consider the search officially over.

I'd been wanting to try the Fremont Diner for a while but hadn't because the pull of the Perfect BLT had always been too strong. Now, free of such constraints, we decided it was time to check it out. 

As soon as I saw the oyster po' boy on the menu, I knew what I was having. Daniel ordered a cheeseburger. 
And it was sublime, all of it. The place was crowded and the service slow, but it was a Saturday and we had time. There were also about a hundred other things I wanted to order (hello, skillet caramel cake!), so I'm already looking forward to our next trip. I'll still miss the Sage BLT, but I won't be going hungry any time soon.  

Saturday, September 17, 2011

picnic in marin

Today we drove out to Marin to go to a picnic for Daniel's work. 

The weather was really beautiful and we got out to the picnic site around noon. 

Joanna and I were twins.

We all ate barbecue and watched babies crawl around on the grass. A bunch of the guys  played whiffle ball.

Nice to get out of the city and relax in the sun for a change. Now it's time for a restorative afternoon nap.

Friday, September 16, 2011

le croissant du jour

Language is a cracked kettle on which we beat out tunes for bears to dance to, while all the time we long to move the stars to pity.

                                                                                                                          -Gustave Flaubert

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

heart of light

"You gave me hyacinths first a year ago;
"They called me the hyacinth girl."
-Yet when we came back, late, from the hyacinth garden,
Your arms full, and your hair wet, I could not
Speak, and my eyes failed, I was neither
Living nor dead, and I knew nothing,
Looking into the heart of light, the silence.
Oed' und leer das Meer.

-from T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land

Monday, September 12, 2011

dinner with friends

Dinner menu:
Crostini with white bean dip (recipe: Giada de Laurentiis)
Eggplant bruschetta with mint and ricotta salata (recipe: Smitten Kitchen)

First course:
Shaved fennel and mushroom salad with lemon, truffle oil, and parmigiano reggiano

Second course:
Lemon spaghetti

Main course:
Whole red snapper with pistou, thyme, and heirloom tomatoes, baked in parchment (recipe: Patricia Wells); braised artichokes and leeks (recipe: Marcella Hazan)

Currant bread pudding with hard sauce

This was Sunday supper with our friends Rob and Shelly.

This is what the aftermath looked like. 

I love cooking on Sundays, when I can actually spend the time to prepare a full meal. Such a treat.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

smitten kitchen's dreamy cream scones

As I've probably mentioned before, I love breakfast. That being said, my breakfasts are typically made up of things like granola or plain yogurt with berries. Not austere, but fairly simple. However, there are certain times where something a bit more decadent is in order, and for those times I present you with Smitten Kitchen's dreamy cream scones.

If I'm at a bakery, I typically don't go for the scones. I often find them heavy and dry where they should be light and supple. Enter these scones. They are a cinch to make and you can add pretty much whatever sort of dried fruit tickles your fancy in order to switch them up (my preference is for dried sour cherries). They also freeze beautifully, so I'll usually make a full batch, shape the dough, and then pop it in the freezer. That way, I can have fresh, oven-baked scones on demand. Score! This recipe is perfect; you needn't change a thing. Now go, get baking!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

fresh eggs

A week or so ago, we had dinner with our friends Morgan and Joanna over at their apartment in the Richmond. Their apartment complex has a backyard and in that backyard, they have built a chicken coop that currently houses five chickens. After dinner, they gave us a few eggs to take home with us.

The eggs are smaller than ones you would buy at a grocery store and they've got a lovely sort of soft gray hue to them. I woke up early this morning to get some work done from home before heading to the office and decided that today was the day to sample the eggs.

They were, unsurprisingly, delicious. The yolks were a deep orange color and the flavor was delicate but also richer than a store bought egg. I speared the yolks with little toast points and ate up every bite of the eggs with relish. An excellent start to the morning.

Monday, September 5, 2011

a few days in la jolla

A long weekend in La Jolla can be awfully nice.

It was lovely to spend a few days with my family, talking and eating and relaxing. Now I'm back in San Francisco and finding it hard to believe that it's September. This year is flying by.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

the la jolla farmer's market

Every Sunday, there's a Farmer's Market down in the village. My mother goes every weekend and today I joined her.

I bought a goat's milk popsicle, flavored with honey and lavender. It was...interesting. My mother bought herbs and fresh eggs and a baguette to make steak sandwiches with the leftovers from last night's dinner. 

nice to be back

It has been so nice to be back in San Diego. As I write this, I am sitting in the kitchen drinking a cappuccino while my dad reads the Sunday Times and watches the U.S. Open and my mother empties the dishwasher. My brother is fast asleep on the sofa in the living room. Our ancient dachshund, Nigel, is chewing on a rubber toy in his dog bed. The sun is shining. Yes, it's nice to be back.

Yesterday, my parents invited some friends of the family over for dinner, so my mother and I spent a good portion of the day doing last minute grocery shopping and cooking. Because summer is coming to an end, we decided to grill steaks with chimichurri along with some simple vegetables. For dessert, my mother made panna cotta and I made a cherry compote flavored with lemon, vanilla, and Madeira. 

At 7, Arnie and Susan arrived bearing appetizers- mushroom duxelles, gruyere and guanciale on puff pastry, and homemade toasts with truffle cream. 

And then there were the wines. 

Most of my friends think I'm a little bonkers when it comes to my obsession with food, but as you can see, I come by it honestly. It's one of the great pleasures in life, made especially precious because it's  something you share with the people you love. 

Dinner was a lovely, relaxed affair full of laughter and conversation. 

After dessert, Arnie and Susan went home and my family sat out in the living room and listened to the Rolling Stones. Then we all went in the jacuzzi. 

It's good to be here.
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