February 2011

nothing says love like lamb ragu

Jordan and I had a low key Valentine’s day. In fact, the day of love kind of snuck up on us. But, because I am a lucky girl with a talented cook of a boyfriend, our Valentine’s day meal at home was just perfect.

Pappardelle with Lamb Ragu

1 lamb shank

1/2 c red wine

1/2 c stock

salt, pepper, chili flake

1 cup tomato sauce

1 lb fresh pappardelle pasta (It is worth springing for the fresh stuff for this dish. The thick noodles and the sauce just go great together)

Salt and pepper your lamb shank. Sear all sides in a cast iron skillet or dutch oven. Add a little red wine, broth and part of the tomato sauce. Braise in a 325 degree oven for 2 hours, until tender and falling off the bone. Remove shank from braising liquid to cool. Reduce braising liquid until the consistency of watery ketchup (Jordan’s description). Shred meat from bone and return to sauce.

Boil a pot of salted water. Add the remaining tomato sauce to the meat mixture and warm. Cook fresh pappardelle for 3 minutes. Add to sauce mixture and toss. Serve with grated parmesan, a little dab of ricotta, chives and a splash of olive oil. Jordan served it with blanched and broiled romanesco on the side.

Yummmmm! Delicious, comforting and balanced. A perfect winter dish!


over the weekend

To be honest, we didn’t cook much over the weekend. We spent most of our time walking, laying around in public parks, drinking cocktails and playing cribbage. It was pretty fabulous. (Although I have a super-secret recipe in the works that most likely will change my life. I did want to make this super-secret recipe over the weekend, but the life-changing will have to wait).

Here are a few photos and beverage recipes.

Classic Gin Martini, Jordan’s cocktail of choice

2.5 oz gin

0.5 oz dry vermouth

Chill glass, stir over ice for 30 seconds, strain into glass, add olive. Jordan says this is more complicated than it sounds, and he is right. It takes finesse to make a good martini.

Pamplemousse, my new favorite, inspired by Orangette

1 oz Aperol

2 oz white wine

2 oz grapefruit juice, about 1/2 grapefruit

Stir together with ice, strain into a cocktail glass and enjoy a citrusy, herby, slightly bitter, very enjoyable drink. Even Willow was tempted!


pasta with kale, parmesan, and portobello

I used to have a phobia of cooked greens. I thought they were gross, mushy and sea-gunky and so I religiously avoided them for years. And then I moved in with Jordan, who happens to like cooked greens. And then we joined a CSA. And now I have winter greens up to my eyebrows!

Guess what dear friends … I’ve embraced cooked greens. I actually like them now. Yep! Amazing! My fear has dissipated because I have learned the secret to cooking greens so that they are edible (delightful even) and the exact opposite of the greens I once feared.

The secret: Blanche them quickly in boiling, salted water. They cook, yet they retain their texture and don’t become a gloppy indistinguishable mess.

Pasta with kale, parmesan, and portobello

Put a pot of water to boil. Once boiling, add a hefty handful of salt and your kale. Boil the kale for 3 minutes. Pull it out with a slotted spoon and set aside (it will continue to cook a bit while it sits). Add your pasta. Cook according to package directions. Meanwhile, sauté a little garlic in olive oil. Crack an egg in the serving bowl, set aside. Grate a little parmesan or pecorino, lemon zest and chop any herbs you have lying around.

Turn on the broiler. Broil your portobello, 7 minutes per side. Slice.

After the pasta is al dente, add to your sauteed garlic. Toss. Pour this into your serving bowl and toss with egg, cheese, zest, herbs and kale. The egg and cheese combine with a little of the residual pasta water to make this awesome, super easy sauce. Top with portobello and more cheese and serve.

Note: You can easily omit the portobello or replace it with another protein. We didn’t really think it’s flavor melded with the other ingredients. But, don’t forget that kale! Turning icky greens into a delicious dinner is the whole point!


our csa box from eatwell farms

As we described a few weeks ago, Jordan and I joined a CSA (community supported agriculture) group. We’ve been enjoying our box of super seasonal and fresh produce and trying new recipes. Our farm is Eatwell Farms and I want to share the beautiful produce we just picked up!

This week we received: navel oranges, lettuce, stir-fry mix (kale, chard, other winter greens), romanesco, box choy, turnips, leeks, carrots, red beets, apples and butternut squash.

So pretty! So tasty! And, honestly, how adorable is that little group of leeks! I squealed when Jordan showed them to me and Willow came rushing over to see what the excitement was all about.

If you are interested in joining a CSA in your area please visit LocalHarvest.org.


heath ceramics factory tour

This post will deviate slightly from the butter and pork theme that dominates our blog, but don’t worry folks, it’s only temporary.  Plus, the departure is justified because Heath Ceramics is such an amazing place and because they primarily produce dishware. (Food blog + artisanal dishware = peas in a pod, right?). Okay, here is the story.

Heath Ceramics was founded in 1948 in Sausalito, CA by Edith Heath. She was a feisty lady who knew her mind. She built her ceramic factory on the values of quality and sustainability, using local materials as much as possible and paying the real cost of labor always. Basically, she wanted to make simple, good things for good people. And so she did for the next 50 years. In 2003, husband and wife team, Robin Petravic and Catherine Bailey purchased Heath Ceramics with a mission to revitalize the company. By placing a strong emphasis on design, handcrafted techniques, and the reinvigoration of the company’s designer-maker legacy, Robin and Catherine have preserved and perpetuated the Edith’s values. Today, Heath Ceramics is one of the few remaining American potteries still in existence. Every piece they sell is made in their Sausalito factory by a team of 60 craftsmen and every piece is truly a work of art.

Last Friday, I took off work and Jordan and I went on the factory tour. We got to see first hand every step of the process and learn about the company’s history. It was incredible! I was so impressed by the time and attention put into each piece. The techniques were fascinating (I had zero idea how to make a stoneware platter from scratch) and the staff eager to share how they produce what they produce. It was evident how proud everyone was of their product, but even evident how proud they are of their process. It was truly unique experience and I loved every moment.

* this image courtesy Heath Ceramics

At the Sausalito store, they sell factory seconds – pieces that didn’t quite make the quality standards primarily due to aesthetic reasons (bubbled glaze, little nicks) – for 30% off. We purchased a few beautiful pieces, including the serving bowl pictured up top, a little milk pitcher, and two tiles to use as trivets or spoon rests. I’ll just show them off here …

*I think the little split makes this little guy even cuter!

I am kicking myself for not taking more photos while in the factory. It is a beautiful place and the processes are amazing and artisanal and unlike anything I’ve ever seen.

If you want to go on a tour (do it!), give them a call or click here for more information. And, remember to bring your camera!



Why do I love having fairly decent baking skills … because when I’m sitting at the kitchen table watching Jordan bustle around cooking dinner and I’m stuck with a sudden desire to consume carrot cake, instead of suppressing that urge, I bake and actually eat this delightful carrot cake in less than an hour.  Awesome. Not that I should always cook and eat desserts like that – with great power comes great responsibility – but still, it feels pretty good. (Aside: Jordan is going to kill me for posting that quote).



alice’s cauliflower soup

Boy oh boy, cauliflower is in season! This week at the farmer’s market we purchased a huge head of cauliflower. It was at least basketball sized … and only cost $1. Talk about bang for your buck.

Jordan and I really enjoy cauliflower, as I’m sure you’ve noticed from prior recipes. This week we decided to fall back on an old favorite – cauliflower soup. We’ve made this recipe several times, but this is its first debut on the blog. Why you ask, if it is so delicious, has it never be discussed? Because the pictures I’ve taken up until this point have all be so ugly that I couldn’t bear to post them.

This recipe is from Alice Water’s Chez Panisse Vegetables, which is a fabulous cookbook. Each chapter highlights a vegetable, explains its taste and season, and then offers a few simple recipes for how to best prepare it.

French Cream of Cauliflower Soup, from Chez Panisse Vegetables
1 large cauliflower
1 onion
2 T butter
4 T creme fraiche
chervil (I never can find chervil, so we’ve used parsley and chives)

Cut off the stem of the cauliflower and any green leaves. Break into florets, wash in cold water.

Peal and slice the onion thin. In a soup pot, stew the onions and florets in butter with a little water for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, without letting them brown. Add water to cover and cook for 25 minutes, covered over medium heat.

Puree the soup in a blender or using an immersion blender. Reheat gently until just under boiling. Add the creme fraiche and season with salt and nutmeg to taste. Serve very hot with herb garnish.

Yep, that simple, and it is amazing!  You don’t even need to have stock on hand (Awesome, since I more often than not forget to buy it). If any of you end up with gigantic heads of cauliflower, most probably larger than your own heads, try out this recipe. It is perfectly simple and the true cauliflower flavor shines through.


Update: We enjoyed six meals from this single batch of soup! $1 cauliflower + $0.50 onion + $4.50 creme fraiche = about $1 per meal!

a dinner party with foraged foods

Last Saturday, Jordan and I hosted a dinner party. And, forgive my lack of modesty, I think we hit it out of the park. The food was wonderful, the company was fantastic, and not a single kitchen crisis befell us.

The Menu

Winter salad with shaved fennel, apple, radish, foraged* miner’s lettuce and foraged wild radish

Pork belly** with pomegranate molasses

Paella, from our recipe posted in Paella Per Se

Green beans

And for dessert …

Passionfruit*** mousse

*A note on foraging: Jordan and I are clearly interested in local foods and we’ve been talking about foraging our own wild foods for quite a while. While it sort of began as a distant possibility and kind of a joke, last week we went to a free lecture about the SF food scene at the library and one of the panelists Iso Rabins of ForageSF is a San Fran forager. Iso inspired us to get out and forage. And so, last Saturday, we did!

**Our pork belly was purchased from the Fatted Calf, a specialty meats and charcuterie shop near our place. The best part: we saw the butchering of the pig where our pork belly came from! More about the Fatted Calf to follow.

*** I am obsessed with passionfruit. Every since I went to Argentina and first tasted the maracuya helado, I was hooked. Sadly, passionfruit isn’t the easiest to track down here in the US. BUT! I have an awesome boyfriend who sympathizes with my obsession and somehow finds secret suppliers of frozen passionfruit puree in the Mission! Yay!

Now a few recipes …

Pork Belly with Pomegranante Molasses, click here

Passionfruit Mousse or Mousse de Maracuya, click here

pork belly with pomegranate molasses

This was our first foray into homemade pork belly and it turned out really well. (To be honest, I was worried, but Jordan really impressed me with this one).  He based his dish on a recipe by David Chang of Momofuku fame for Pork Belly Buns.

Pork Belly with Pomegranate Molasses

1/2 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup sugar
4 cups water
1 1/2 lbs fresh pork belly (ours was from the Fatted Calf Charcuterie)
1/2 c chicken stock
1/2 c water

Brine pork:
Stir together kosher salt, sugar, and 4 cups water until sugar and salt have dissolved. Put pork belly in a large sealable bag, then pour in brine. Carefully press out air and seal bag. Lay in a shallow dish and let brine, chilled, at least 12 hours.

Roast pork:
Preheat oven to 300°F with rack in middle.

Discard brine. Cut pork into portion sized pieces and put it, fat side up, in an 8- to 9-inch square baking pan. Pour in broth and remaining 1/2 cup water. Cover tightly with foil and roast until pork is very tender, about 2 1/2 hours. Remove foil and increase oven temperature to 450°F, then roast until fat is golden, about 20 minutes more. Jordan also put the pork belly pieces under the broiler for a bit to really crisp up that last layer.

Serve with a splash of pomegranate molasses, a little acid to cut the delicious pork fat. Yummmmmmmm!


passionfruit mousse

Here is the recipe for the passionfruit mousse that we served at our last dinner party. It is based on a recipe that I learned while in Argentina. I love passionfruit and this dessert will not disappoint!

Passionfruit Mousse – Mousse de Maracuyá

2 packets (2 T) unsweetened gelatin
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 cup passion fruit pulp
1 T lime juice
1 1/2 c sugar
1 2/3 cup heavy cream
6 egg whites
1/2 t cream of tartar

In a heatproof bowl, sprinkle gelatin over 1/4 c water and let sit for 5 minutes.

Combine passionfruit pulp, lime juice and sugar in a large sauce pan. Heat lightly until the sugar dissolves. This will only take a moment or two. Set aside to cool. Reserve 1/2 cup of this mixture for use as topping when serving.

Heat gelatin over a pot of simmering water until it melts. Take of the heat and add the passionfruit mixture. Let cool for 30 minutes to 1 hour in the fridge.

Take passionfruit – gelatin mixture out of the fridge and pull of any skin that may have formed. It will have thickened slightly.

Whip the cream until peaks form and then mix this into the passionfruit mixture with a spoon.

Whip the egg whites with the cream of tartar until stiff peaks form. Add 1/3 of the egg whites to the passionfruit mixture to lighten it. Fold in the remaining egg whites carefully.

Spoon into dishes and refrigerate for several hours.

Top with reserved passionfruit-sugar mixture to serve and enjoy! Passionfruit is amazing and this desert achieves the perfect balance between sweet and tart, light and creamy. I love it!


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