Category Archives: special occasion

Rack of Lamb with Winter Vegetables

Warm Winter Vegetable Salad

Winter Rack of Lamb Medium Rare

The lamb I made according to my Weeknight Rack of Lamb Recipe–hands down the easiest, tastiest rack of lamb recipe you’ll come across. The special part of this that will make you feel extra good after eating is all the delicious vegetables. I took a smorgasboard of what I had in the refrigerator–you can do the same–and cut, washed, and blanched (cooked in salted, boiling water for a few brief minutes) all of it. I then dressed it while still warm with excellent, buttery Spanish olive oil, salt, pepper, and lemon zest.  Get creative!

Warm Winter Vegetable Salad Recipe

Serves 4
1 sweet potato, cubed
1/2 head romanesco or cauliflower (or 1/4 head of each), cut into small pieces
1.5 C sugar snap peas, trimmed and cut in half
2T kosher salt (for boiling water)
zest of 1 lemon
1T olive oil

Bring a pot of water to boil and add 2T kosher salt. Add the sweet potato, cooking for 90 seconds. Add the cauliflower/romanesco, and cook for 60 seconds more. Add the snap peas, and cook an additional 30 seconds. Drain all well, and serve with olive oil and lemon zest on top.

Fennel & Stone Fruit Salad, Tri-tip on Coconut Corn Salad, Flourless Chocolate Cake with Creme Anglais Whipped Cream

Stone Fruit Salad with Cucumber, Bell Pepper, Peaches and Plums

tritip on coconut corn salad

quick flourless chocolate cake with creme anglaise whipped cream

For seven weeks, we’ve had family staying with us. They’re really nice people, interesting, appreciative, but man.. It was rough. I wasn’t conditioned for this. Never in my life did I think I’d have people living effectively in my house for seven weeks in a go. I’ve barely cooked for two months because of it, but the eve before their (very recent) departure (which was followed by 24 hours of blissful retreat in Calistoga), I made a seasonal and tasty multi-course dinner for us all to enjoy. Then, I made it again, a little modified, in Calistoga for our hosts.

Fennel & Stone Fruit Salad Recipe
Serves 4-5 as a starter
Very fast if you have a mandolin! See the mango version here.

1 small head fennel, sliced very thin, with a mandolin
1 white peach, sliced with a mandolin
1 red plum, sliced with a mandolin
1 black plum, sliced with a mandolin
1 large cucumber, cut in half, seeds removed, sliced with a mandolin
1 orange, yellow, or red bell pepper, diced
1 T seasoned rice vinegar
2 tsp mirin
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp toasted sesame oil
raw sesame seeds to top

Mix it all together, and serve in beautiful messy lumps, like bedhead, with sesame on top.

 

Tri-tip on Coconut Corn Salad with Chard Recipe
Coconut Corn adapted from Heidi Swanson
Serves 4-5

1.5-2lb tri-tip or flank steak*
5 ears corn, kernels sliced off
2 T butter
1 T fresh thyme
1/2 C raw, soaked almonds, chopped
1 very small red onion (1/2 large)
1 C raw, dried flaked coconut (The bigger the better), toasted freshly
4 C torn chard

Sautee on the corn in the butter at high heat, giving it color but retaining crisp texture. Add chard, thyme and some salt to taste. Turn heat off, mix in onion, almonds, and coconut.

Season tri-tip with salt and pepper. Cook on low heat in a closed top grill for about 10 minutes each side. It will be medium.

*You could also choose to make a roast (5 lbs=4 hrs in oven at 250=rare, delicious roast beef) and serve that on top instead, or use flank steak, which you may want to marinade in garlic, whiskey, sesame oil and soy sauce for at least an hour or no more than overnight.

 

Quick Flourless Chocolate Cake with Creme Anglais Whipped Cream
Serves 5-6

No-Bake Chocolate Cake From Heidi Swanson

I made creme anglais the evening before with Gran Marnier Souffle (which photographs terribly!), and had some leftover. I mixed it into whipped cream; it was divine.

Easy Weeknight Rack of Lamb Recipe

Weeknight Rack of Lamb

This is painfully easy; it’s shamelessly stolen from artist Joanne Ruggles who treated a whole gaggle of us to it on New Years Eve this year. I’ve been making it every few weeks since–I even took a cooler pack of lamb with the ingredients up to Orr Hot Springs and made lunch out of it on a weekday–after which several people who saw me preparing it in their wonderful kitchen asked me for the recipe. Yeah, that good!

Easy Weeknight Rack of Lamb Recipe

Rack of Lamb, however much you want, trimmed of fat (this is important! slice that stuff off or you’ll be gnawing on it)
Sweet Mustard
Montreal Steak Seasoning shamelessly purchased from Costco (Yeah, I know. This is a serious tangent from this blog).

Oven, 400 degrees. Slather that trimmed lamb with mustard, even the bones. Generously coat it in the steak seasoning. Throw it on some foil and put it in the oven for about 20-35 minutes, until medium or medium rare. If you like your lamb more cooked than that then you don’t deserve to make this.

Serve it with anything! A big salad, some couscous, zucchini, asparagus, sauteed chard or spinach..Whatever!

Truffled Romanesco with Yogurt Sauce & Pomegranate

Truffled Romanesco with Yogurt and Pomegranate

About six months ago I switched to a new CSA/Farm Shipment service–Eatwell Farms. I’ve been fantastically happy with them, and lately I’ve given a few of their suggested recipes a try. Most CSA services give recipes with their products, which I’d assume is mostly to help those who have never eaten kohlrabi, or don’t know what to do with an eggplant. That said, the recipes from Eatwell have been especially tasty ideas and have been great at combining multiple things from the shipment into one dish.

This romesco recipe is adapted from one of their more recent blog entries.

Truffled Romanesco with Yogurt Sauce & Pomegranate Recipe

1 head romanesco, green cauliflower, or cauliflower, chopped smartly and evenly
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp caraway seeds, lightly crushed
1 tsp Balti seasoning or a bit of garam masala; if you can’t get either, use more cumin and maybe a bit of paprika
1/2-1tsp kosher salt
1/2 C whole milk yogurt (I used the thin, Russian style Pavel’s)
2-3 tsp Turkish Seasoning or a mixture of oregano, garlic powder, black pepper, paprika, sumac and a pinch of cayenne
1/2 a pomegranate’s seeds (about 1/3rd cup)
2 T white truffle butter or 1 tsp truffle oil
olive oil

Heat a bit of olive oil in a large skillet to medium high. Add the romanesco or cauliflower and the salt. Cook until some brown bits occur and the cauliflower is mostly soft. Add the cumin, balti, and caraway seeds and toss. Add the truffle butter and turn off the heat, stirring to melt.

Transfer to an oven-safe serving dish and either keep warm for up to 1 hour or place immediately under the broiler for 1 minute to carmelize the top and make it crispy. Mix the Turkish seasoning with the yogurt and add salt to taste. Upon serving, pour the yogurt over the dish and add pomegranate seeds on top.

I like to share this one as an appetizer over wine and a block of good sheep or goat’s cheese.

Truffled Romanesco with Yogurt Sauce & Pomegranate
Truffled Romanesco with Yogurt Sauce & Pomegranate
by
A fresh, easy, and impressive way to use romanesco or cauliflower, served family style, with a mediterranean edge.
Ingredients:
  • 1 head romanesco or other variety of cauliflower, chopped in nice size slices
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp caraway seeds, lightly crushed
  • 1 tsp balti seasoning or garam masal
  • 1/2-1tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 C whole milk yogurt
  • 2-3 tsp Turkish seasoning
  • 1/2 a pomegranate's seeds (about 1/3 C)
  • 2 T white truffle butter or 1 tsp truffle oil
  • olive oil
Instructions:
Heat a bit of olive oil in a large skillet to medium high. Add the romanesco or cauliflower and the salt. Cook until some brown bits occur and the cauliflower is mostly soft. Add the cumin, balti, and caraway seeds and toss. Add the truffle butter and turn off the heat, stirring to melt.</p> <p>Transfer to an oven-safe serving dish and either keep warm for up to 1 hour or place immediately under the broiler for 1 minute to carmelize the top and make it crispy. Mix the Turkish seasoning with the yogurt and add salt to taste. Upon serving, pour the yogurt over the dish and add pomegranate seeds on top.

Venetian Fritole Recipe (Italian Doughnuts – Fritule)

Venetian Fritole (Italian Doughnuts)

In 2006 I was living in the heart of Florence and attending culinary school. The best class I took was the regional Italian cuisine course with Marcella Ansaldo — we made a few typical dishes from pretty much every region in Italy throughout the semester. One of the recipes was for Fritole – yeast-based Italian doughnuts from Venice, traditionally eaten for Carnivale.

I posted about Fritole back in November of 2006–a few months after returning from Florence. I remade these delicious treats this morning; it is Easter Sunday and it made for a peaceful, tasty breakfast treat for the two of us. It’s a typical day in SF; the weather doesn’t know what it’s doing and it’s somewhere between heavy fog and rain, with a little bit of light poking through. We looked over our wet garden with some good coffee; fritole made the whole thing come together.

Italian Fritole inside

italian fritole with raisins

Note: You can prepare the dough the night before, leaving in a room-temp spot (not warm) overnight. Simply stir/punch down the dough in the morning, and let rise 30 more minutes before frying. It makes brunch a breeze!

Italian Fritole Recipe

1 1/2 C all purpose flour (200 grams) + 1 Tbsp
1/2 C brown sugar (60 grams; can use granulated too)
1 egg
1 packet yeast (8-10grams; fresh brewer’s yeast is great too)
1 C milk, divided (up to 200ml milk; any type)
1/4 C golden raisins (50 grams; can use other types of raisins too)
1/3 C dry sherry (or brandy, whiskey, flat champagne, etc)
1/2 tsp salt (generous three-finger pinch)
high-temp oil like peanut, safflower, or pine nut (most traditional) for frying
powdered sugar for dusting

Optional Ingredients (non-traditional):
1/2 tsp orange blossom water (add with milk) or
1/2 tsp cinnamon/nutmeg (add with flour) or
2 T chopped almonds (add with raisins; you might consider a few drops of almond extract w/ the milk too)

Combine the raisins with the sherry. You can substitute boiling water if needed. Microwave for 1 minute to warm combination and set aside to plump (5-15 minutes). Once plumped, drain the raisins and toss them with 1T flour until nicely dusted.

Warm 1/2 C of milk to about 110 degrees; add 1 tsp brown or regular sugar and stir. Add the yeast (mixture should be warm when adding). Set aside to bloom (at least 10 minutes).

Combine the flour, salt, and sugar. Whisk well. Use more flour if needed. Add the egg and dusted raisins, stirring gently but not thoroughly with a spoon. Add the bloomed milk mixture and stir until just combined. If the mixture is too dry (it should be sticky but combined, not runny), add more milk as needed, up to 1/2 C more. Cover the dough with saran wrap and let sit 1-2 hours in a warm spot*.

Prepare a large plate with two-three layers of paper towels (a draining rack is ok too, but the towels might remove more oil). Get some chopsticks or heat-resistant tongs ready. Put a light dusting of flour over the top of your batter to make preparation easier.

Heat oil in a wide pan with sturdy sides (like a high sided sauce pan) to medium high heat; the oil should be at least 1.5 inches deep. Once warmed, test a small dot of batter–it should rise to the top immediately and bubble around the batter, but not burn it in the course of a minute**. Using two large spoons, section just-smaller than an egg size scoops and gently place into hot oil. When deep golden brown, flip each doughnut over and cook; remove when evenly colored and cool on paper towels.

Serve with powdered sugar on top.

Makes 15 golf-ball sized fritole. 3 per person is sufficient.

*If the dough sits more than 2 hours, simply stir around to deflate and let rise 30 more minutes. This can be repeated twice if necessary.
**If the doughnuts seem to be cooking too quickly or getting too dark before you can flip them, lower the heat slightly and allow them to cook longer or else they will be gooey inside.