Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Pesto? Presto!

While pesto is clearly a summer food, if there's fresh basil around it just might be begging to be blended up into a savory sauce. Ah, pesto. This here batch came out mighty good-I diverted from the traditional pine nut variety by throwing in almonds instead.

Try this at home! Blend the following ingredients to taste
*A big handful of basil
*Your favorite variety of nuts-if anyone has tried peanuts, I'm curious to hear how this tastes
*Olive oil
*Cloves of fresh garlic
*Parmesan cheese

Monday, October 24, 2005

The best tacos?

Hard to say if they're the best, but Taqueria El Grullense in Palo Alto has some pretty amazing tacos. I have no idea what "El Grullense" means (go ahead, try looking it up), but it doesn't really matter when you're really hungry and have a thin wallet! At $1.75 each (meat tacos are somewhat cheaper), a complete meal with ice cold bear can be had for a mere $6.50. And they pile the extras on with such a heavy hand that you can't really tell where one taco ends and the other starts. Good deal. The best part? It's just down the road from my house. Yay, I've found my new taco heaven. Where do you go for the best tacos?

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

El vinedo impresionante!

I couldn't resist sharing more photos of my family enjoying SLO wine country. There's dad, washing back some port. Mom, who is known to have secret stashes of chocolate hidden around the house, emerged from the car with a big bag of great chocolate that nicely complemented the bevvies, making us all that much happier.

And there's the lovely family, sans lovely sister who hadn't made it down yet.

Isn't the view great?

Monday, October 17, 2005

A Marine on leave enjoys his first wine tasting

This is the first update to take us out of the Bay Area, but with good reason...

My brother, a Marine stationed in Iraq, was home for a short holiday. Needless to say, we were SO happy to see him! Home is Los Angeles, so we met him and the rest of the family in charming San Luis Obispo, a lovely halfway point. After catching up over a hearty meal, we ended up at the hospitable Baileayna Vineyard tasting room. Baileyana, a little Edna Valley Winery, specializes in Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Syrah. The tasting room, located in an old country schoolhouse, is crisp and clean exuding only the faintest hints of spelling tests and paper airplanes. The air smells of musky grapes rather than of dusty chalk, and the jovial servers wipe away any thoughts of school marms and detention.

After our tasting, we took a generous pour of their amazing port (which my brother thought tasted like Manischewitz-what does he know?) outside to enjoy the sunset and watch the dog run around the lawn. It was an amazing day.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Start your day the old fashioned way

Fill it to the rim, with Brim! I was just gonna throw together some simple granola, and Scott came up with a first meal that would make the governator proud.

Secret ingredients
granola with yogurt and sliced bananas
Armenian pizza topped with a mini omelette
Vietnamese-style coffee (sweetened condensed milk is the key here)
orange juice and sparkling water-a favorite combo

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Apple Raspberry Pie with Crushed Almond Crust

When I first started cooking, recipes existed in a galaxy far, far away. As a child I would help my mom, who always salted to taste and added ingredients as she saw fit, with the cooking. This, in my mind, was how people cooked. Mom (Sheila) owned her fair share of cookbooks, but they acted more as a reference or source of inspiration than as concrete dogma. This way of cooking is in my blood.

I mention all this because over the past few years I've wanted to make certain things that required more than good intuition. Gourmet things, like creme fraiche or pasta puttanesca (for a good time, look up the meaning of that word), which required the accumulation of several cookbooks as well as subscriptions to cooking magazines. When my husband and I recently moved to Palo Alto, in an effort to save space and as an exercise in selection, we decided to limit ourselves to four cookbooks.

While this isn't a first in my cooking experience, this week I found these two worlds collide. I found some delicious fuji apples (my current favorite), and wanted to make them into a pie with an almond crust. I found the crust recipe in my trusted Craig Claiborne, but couldn't figure out how to make the apples work with it--Craig offered no advice! And the other cookbooks were of little help. Rather than seek information online (perhaps the logical, left brain choice), I happily reverted to my old ways and rediscovered the drama that can exist in a kitchen. I can't say that this was the BEST pie ever, but it was creative and pretty tasty.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Roasted Tomatoes

I discovered the Menlo Park Farmers Market this weekend, and came home with some great produce. While the market isn't huge, plenty of farms were represented. For lack of fridge space, and perhaps a more encyclopedic knowledge of cooking certain foods, I passed on the bok choy, pomegranates, and radishes. But I did steal away with green and yellow beans, yams, fuji apples, an assortment of tomatoes, garlic, arrugula and lettuce, and amazing emerald beaut plums. If you ever get the chance to taste the Emerald Beauts-do, don't question the urge! They are delicious and sweet, and apparently grow well in milder temps.

When I got all my goodies home I decided it was time I learned to roast some tomatoes. Never done it before. I found a simple recipe in my beloved "The Figs Table," an homage to spending two years in Boston. Todd English can get fancy pantsy, but not here. The only drawback, if there is one, is that you need to give yourself 3 hours to see the fruits of your labor. But maybe because there really is no labor you won't really mind. So throw 'em in the oven and then throw back some drinks with friends. I mixed my tomatoes into a yellow string bean and pesto side dish. Delish!

12 plum tomatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper

-Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.
-Place tomatoes on a baking sheet and rub with the oil. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper.
-Roast until the tomatoes are shriveled and slightly darkened, about 3 hours.
-Use immediately, or cover and refrigerate up to 4 days.

Welcome to California!

To honor our new home in the California Bay Area, an area rich in food lore and fine dining, this blog is an attempt to document our culinary discoveries, eating habits (without too many gross details), and milestones in cooking. This site isn't trying to wow anyone, but will simply attempt to touch upon what it can mean to learn something new and generate some excitement for cooking and eating in the process.