Wednesday, December 31, 2014

chocolate dulce de leche tart

As previously mentioned, we're heading to San Juan Bautista for New Year's Eve this year. Our friends Jared and Amy graciously offered to host a few of us at their home for a relaxed celebration. I volunteered to bring dessert and set out to find something suitable for the occasion

One of my favorite cookbooks from this past year was David Lebovitz's My Paris Kitchen. I decided to make his chocolate dulce de leche tart.

The crust was a disaster challenging. After creaming the butter and sugar together and adding the requisite egg yolk, I stirred in the cocoa-flour mixture and was rewarded with a bowl full of what looked like dark sand. There was no chance that this would come together as any sort of crust. So I used a recipe from Saveur, creamed a bit more butter, added a touch more flour and another egg yolk and turned it into a different recipe for a chocolate pie crust, and voila - dough fit to be pressed into a tart pan.

The rest of the recipe came together easily enough - the dulce de leche, the chocolate custard, the sprinkling of sea salt on the top - and baked into something we'll be eating after dinner tonight with a dollop of whipped cream. I'll check in to let you know whether it's a keeper or not. In the meanwhile, happy New Year's Eve - I hope everyone has something planned for this evening that he/she is looking forward to. See you in the new year. 

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

the year in review

A few years back, I went through old photos and did a sort of "year in review," recapping some of the things I'd done. I looked back at it recently and loved having it as a short record of the year as a whole, so I thought I'd try it again for 2014. Here we go!


In January, we took a trip to Tahoe with Dave and Lindsay (and, of course, Oski). I snow-shoed for the first time and got to watch Oski eat scoops of vanilla ice cream at Burger Me in Truckee. I started in the Environmental Law clinic at Stanford. Later in the month, my parents came for a visit and began looking for an apartment in San Francisco.


We started February in Napa, spending Superbowl Sunday wine tasting. 

We spent Valentine's day in Tahoe, where there was no snow. So we walked on the beach and spent the evenings eating sausages and drinking beer at Mellow Fellow.

My parents found a temporary apartment in the Mission and moved in. 

 Towards the end of the month, I took a trip to Joshua Tree and Palm Springs. We hiked around the desert and stayed in the very colorful Saguaro hotel. I tried a date shake for the first time.

In March, Daniel and I celebrated our anniversary and his birthday.  

We went to the wedding of one of Daniel's best friends from college down in Paicines. Lots of champagne, lots of dancing. Of course.

Then I moved out of the dorms at Stanford and stayed with my parents over spring break at their apartment in the Mission. I chopped off my hair. 


In April, we moved in to a new apartment in San Francisco. I celebrated my birthday right around the corner at Pizzetta.

We went on a tour of the art galleries in Potrero with our friends Ashley and Josh.

We spent Mothers Day in Napa. On Memorial Day, I went to a Giants' Game at AT&T Park with a group of girlfriends. I paid little attention to the game but did buy a hat.

I crammed furiously for finals, took finals, and immediately started my summer job. I travelled to LA for for work training program. Lots of work socializing.

I made a cake to look like the American Flag for the Fourth of July.

I also finally attended a fest at the German Tourist Club, though I didn't wear a dirndl.

I threw a party for Danny in the garden of the Bazaar Cafe to celebrate his graduation from his masters program. Afterwards, we had dinner at Cecilia's and too many drinks at Trad'r Sam's.

I finished work at one law firm and moved over to a different firm in Palo Alto. Daniel went to Scotland. We went camping in Costanoa for a friend's birthday. The Napa earthquake happened.

My friend Kinzie and I spent a long weekend in Santa Fe and I fell in love with the city. We hiked and spa'd and looked at art and ate a lot of terrific food. 

I quickly followed it with another vacation, this time to visit my friend Lena in New York. I had some spectacular meals - dinner at Batard and Perla and two fabulous lunches at La Grenouille and Bouley. I went to MoMA and strolled down 5th. I had drinks with an old friend from my time in Zaragoza. I bought a pair of black strappy sandals. 

After New York, I headed straight to New Orleans with my mother. She bought me a panama hat and we drank French 75s. We took a tour of Frances Parkinson Keyes' home. We also ate quite a lot. It was very hot. 

Then I came home and started my last year of law school.

I braved the heat and went to Hardly Strictly Bluegrass. We went wine tasting in Napa.

We watched the Giants win the World Series. My parents moved in to a new apartment in Russian Hill. I studied for the MPRE and watched children trick or treat in Seacliff on Halloween. Daniel was reunited with the duck sweater.

I took the MPRE. My brother visited San Francisco and we all had dinner at Stone's Throw before his move to Madrid. I heard Diane von Furstenberg speak at Stanford. We celebrated an early Thanksgiving in Napa and then the actual day down in La Jolla with my family. 

Major rainstorms in the Bay Area kept everyone inside during the early part of the month. I studied and took finals. We went to a performance of Handel's Messiah at Grace Cathedral. Daniel and I both got colds. 

We attended dinner parties and holiday parties and drank lots of good wine. We had a visit from Daniel's home-stay family from Australia and experimented with gluten-free pizza. We spent Christmas in Napa, eating and drinking and playing with Katie, the family Weimaraner. 

A full year, and one that I hope will lead to good things in 2015. Happy New Year, everyone. 

Monday, December 29, 2014

days after christmas

The days after Christmas always leave me feeling a little off-kilter. Not bad, just disoriented. There's so much lead up to Christmas - all the shopping you're supposed to be doing, the wrapping, the holiday parties, the eating and drinking and on and on. It's all very nice, but it does end up leaving me feeling somewhat dizzy. We had a completely lovely Christmas in Napa this year - visits to family friends, an elegant Christmas Eve dinner at Angele, far too many presents (Daniel's parents spoiled us absolutely rotten), and plenty of time to nap and read and watch movies and play with the dog. A splendid way to spend the holiday. We stayed up in Napa for several days and only made it back to the city on Saturday afternoon, sorry that we couldn't have stayed longer.

Anyway, now that we're back, I've been trying to get things in order before New Year's, which is approaching far too quickly for comfort. I spent most of today scurrying all over town running the bits and ends of errands that I've been putting off - getting sunglasses repaired, buying a fluted tart pan for the dessert I have in mind for New Year's Eve (if all goes well, I'll be able to post on the finished project before year's end), ordering a dining room table, researching a replacement for my poor Mini Cooper (sob), and a number of other little things I shan't bore you with. Not exactly a day fraught with excitement, but productive.

This year, we're spending New Year's Eve in San Juan Bautista at the home of some dear friends. I'm looking forward to an evening where we stay in, cook good food, and play with the dogs. I can't believe we're getting ready to toast the end of 2014, though in some ways, 2015 can't come fast enough.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

merry christmas

Why work on a paper when you can spend time wrapping Christmas presents and reading through cookie recipes? 

This is definitely the time of year I feel most inclined to stay in my pajamas until noon, drinking cups of tea and reading through old issues of the New Yorker. My cold is on the mend and the sun is out again - a terrific combination. I'm not sure I'm quite up for a run just yet, but at the very least I'm hoping to take a long walk through Pacific Heights just to look at the Christmas decorations. 

I doubt I'll be back here before Christmas, so merry Christmas everyone! Eat, drink and be merry. 

Monday, December 22, 2014

dale degroff's hot toddy

Christmas week is off to a slightly rough start in our household. Daniel and I are both suffering from colds, so we've been snuffling around the apartment for the past few days. On the positive side, Daniel has started fixing us hot toddies, which are amazing. We'll be headed up to Napa for Christmas this year so we didn't want to bother with a lot of decorations but we did manage to get a little live tree that we have displayed on the bookcase in our living room. I like it a lot. 

We've had a lot of things going on - Christmas parties, a visit from friends in Australia, a concert at Grace Cathedral, baking cookies, etc. - but since we're focused on getting rid of our colds before Christmas, I'll just leave you with a recipe for hot toddies and call it a day. 

Hot Toddy (1 serving)
1/2 oz brandy (we've been using apple brandy from the Napa Distillery and it's delicious)
1 tsp honey
1/2 oz fresh lemon juice

Combine ingredients in a mug and top with hot water. Drink and feel better.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

this time of year

The weather has been decidedly gray and stormy over the past week. I've also been taking finals and recovering from a mild cold, so I've been spending a lot of time around the house. While studying for finals wasn't so fun, there have been other consolations - hanging twinkle lights, decorating our tiny Christmas tree, and doing some little cooking projects. 

When Daniel was in college, he did a semester abroad in Australia and the family he stayed with is out in California visiting this week. Since they don't eat wheat, I decided to make a few kinds of ice cream for dessert - Pear Caramel and Panforte. I haven't made ice cream in ages and it was a treat to try out two new flavors. The Panforte involves making candied orange peel, which my mother and I tried back in San Diego over Thanksgiving and burnt to a cinder, so this time I watched the pot very carefully and was rewarded with some very pretty bright orange slivers of candied peel that I added to the ice cream base with a handful of toasted almonds. The Pear Caramel was pretty straightforward - just Bartlett pears cooked in caramel until soft and then sieved. Both were delicious and good flavors for wintertime. 

Anyway, I hope everyone is staying warm and cozy and enjoying the holiday season. For our part, we're headed across town tomorrow for cocktails with my parents followed by a performance of Handel's Messiah at Grace Cathedral. Friday is Daniel's work Christmas party and on Saturday we're heading to Marin for another holiday celebration. I do love this time of year.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

december, already

I had a nice time being back in La Jolla last week for the Thanksgiving holiday - a lot of family, friends and food. The weather was absolutely stunning for most of my visit and while I didn't manage to make it to the beach, I did go for a nice walk with my dad that gave me the chance to enjoy some pretty spectacular views of the coast. 

I'm back in rainy San Francisco now, buckling down to study for finals. Back soon. Can't believe it's December already!
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