Category Archives: special occasion

Scallops in Fava & Pea Puree, Littleneck Clams on White Beans, Sausage & Chard, Creme Fraiche Pannacotta with Strawberries

creme fraiche panna cotta with strawberries (sunday suppers at lucques)

I had occasion to cook last night– a Sunday– and was feeling pretty inspired by a very solid weekend of good eats. Friday night a feast in our back yard, Saturday a hike from our doorstep to the top of twin peaks, down into the mission for a stop at Delfina Pizzeria, an errand at Tartine (here’s a hint: it involved walnut bread, croissants and an eclair) and another at BiRite (which involved this steak) and yet another feast in our back yard.

There is a huge collection of cookbooks in my living room. You can tell they aren’t used often because they’re behind glass, stacked with ornamental things on top that would have to be moved to use them. I woke up around 9 on Sunday and tip toed into the living room to loot a few, returned to bed and did the most serious reading I’ve probably done since college…and the result, my final paper, if you will–this menu.

Scallop in Fava & Pea Puree from Amuse Bouche (slightly altered for scale and for oil content)
With Vouvray

Clams with White Beans, Sausage & Chard from Amuse Bouche (altered significantly)
With Vermentino from Sardegna

Creme Fraiche Pannacotta with Strawberries (From Sunday Suppers at Lucques — perfect as is but would use more milk/less cream next time)
with Moscato di Asti

Park Chow’s Cinnamon French Toast with Marscapone Cream

Home made version of Park Chow's Cinnamon French Toast (recipe)

For those of you in San Francisco, you can go and make your own comparison–but for the rest of you, you’ll have to trust me: the best French toast you’ll ever have is at Park Chow in San Francisco. It’s light, it’s crispy, it’s moist, it’s sweet and cinnamony. And, for weeks, I worked on perfecting my own version for a cinnamon french toast recipe. Here you have it–enjoy! (and if you’re really in for the whole experience, get some coffee from Thanksgiving Coffee Company–it’s where they get their custom blend!)

Mascarpone Cream Topping Recipe
1/2 C heavy whipping cream, whipped very firm
1/2 C room temperature mascarpone cheese
1/2 C powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 T whiskey, creme de cocoa or other liquor of your preference

Mix all ingredients with a hand mixer. In an ideal world, you’ll cover it (or put it in a mason jar like I do) and refrigerate it until very firm.

Cinnamon French Toast Recipe – serves 3-4
4-5 1 inch thick slices Semifreddi’s cinnamon twist bread (a brioche style loaf with a slightly stick outside & cinnamon layers), quartered to triangles
3 eggs, whisked
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 cup milk

Whisk everything but the bread together, and then begin soaking the bread slices in the mixture. They should be pretty darn soggy.

Cook in 1-2 T butter in a 10-12 inch skillet at medium high heat. If your slices are very thick, or seem not to be drying out, reduce heat and cover lightly with a lid to steam through. Serve with real maple syrup, warm.

A fine weeknight dinner for two – endive salad & filet mignon with marsala mushroom sauce

 

filet mignon with creamy marsala mushroom sauce

Sometimes you just feel like a good meal, and if you can cook, you know you can either make a much nicer one for less money at home, or something better than what you could eat out. So, when my gentleman asked me what I’d like to do that evening, I said, “cook.”

For the Steak
2 filet mignons of a size appropriate to you
1/2 lb crimini or other meaty mushrooms, diced
1/2 leek, sliced finely and sauteed in butter, set aside
dry sherry
leftover bechamel sauce or some cream if you’re desperate (or make a roux and add some milk and salt)
butter

Heat the oven to 375. Using a metal skillet (not non stick) big enough for both steaks, heat enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan and add 1-2 T butter, melting at high heat. Salt & pepper the raw steaks. Add to the pan, cooking on one side until browned (about 2 minutes). Flip the steaks, cook 2 more minutes and then without moving the steaks, put the whole pan in the oven. For medium/medium rare, it should take about as long as it takes to make the sauce (5-8 minutes).

In a sautee pan of your choosing, heat 1-2 T butter until melted. Add the chopped mushrooms, cooking at medium heat until slightly shriveled and browned. Raise heat slightly and add 1/2 C sherry, cooking until mostly reduced. Add the bechamel sauce, warming and combining. Add salt & pepper to taste, keep warm.

I served this with wilted spinach (zest of 1 small lemon, juice of same lemon, into a big, hot pan), and couscous (cooked in vegetable stock).

endive salad with bleu cheese, bosc pear, candied lime walnuts

For the salad
2 endives, cleaned and trimmed into seperate leaves
1/3 C candied walnuts (or plain ones, but why bother with going halfway?)
1 bosc pear (or apple, etc), sliced thinly
Blue cheese
Juice of 1 lemon
1-2 tsp walnut oil

Whisk lemon juice and blue cheese together. Use a bit of heat if necessary, the dressing should be fairly thick. Add oil and salt & pepper. Taste and adjust. Dress the endive leaves and assemble on plates, alternating with pear slices. Add more blue cheese crumbles on top and place the walnuts into the salad.

Birthday Dinner: Crab Bisque & Filet Mignon w/ Bernaise + Sweet Potato/Chard Gratin

home made filet mignon with bernaise sauce

Home made crab bisque with dungeness crab

I hosted 8 (including myself) for dinner on Friday to celebrate my gentleman’s birthday; it was lively all night, everybody got full and we washed about 25 wine glasses. We drank champagne, prosecco, sparkling wine from california; we drank mouvedre from Chateau Margene, cuvee from Beckmen, a roussane blend from Tablas Creek–we had delicious wine, and the food came out great.

Recipes to follow in the next day or two. I wish I’d taken a photo of the refuse after making the crab stock, it was a pretty mess in my backyard compost container.

Bday Dinner: Prosciutto Pluot, Halibut on Truffled Corn, Apricot Ricotta Tart

prosciutto wrapped pluot with balsamico and burrata

halibut on truffled corn with microgreens and asparagus

Apricot Nut Ricotta Tart

Prosciutto wrapped Pluot

Simple–great fruit, slices of it, wrapped in very thin prosciutto, paired with a soft cheese like burrata in this case, or seasoned ricotta (season with olive oil or flavored olive oil, salt, pepper), drizzled with aged balsamic vinegar.

Halibut on Truffled Corn

I’ve made this as an appetizer as well, and substituted asparagus shavings steamed lightly for the asparagus itself, and served smaller pieces of fish.

For 4

1.3 lb halibut fillet, skinned
3-4 ears fresh corn
1 pack rainbow microgreens
12 asparagus spears (or 5 if you are shaving them)
fresh thyme
truffle oil
hazelnut or walnut oil; if unavailable substitute mild, high heat oil – a few T
toasted sesame oil – 1 tsp
gomashi – ground salt and toasted sesame seeds
salt & pepper

You’ll need two skillets.

Lightly peel the asparagus and place on parchment paper. Dress lightly with olive oil or flavored olive oil (lemon, clementine, etc; alternatively add lemon or other citrus zest). Wrap peeled asparagus in parchment paper to enclose, and place in oven at 350.

Heat 1-2 T nut oil and toasted sesame oil in nonstick skillet or skillet with good sides for flipping at medium high heat. When hot, add corn. When corn begins to color, reduce heat to medium and add thyme. Continue flipping or stirring every 30 seconds to 1 min.

Meanwhile, heat a few T of oil in a pan for the halibut at medium high/high heat. Use enough to easily coat the bottom of the pan. Dress halibut fillets in gomashi and a dash of fresh ground pepper. Top side down into the pan first when oil is hot. When 2/3rds cooked, flip.

When corn is finished cooking, turn off heat and add 1-2 tsp truffle oil, mix. Season with salt and pepper.

Remove asparagus from oven. Total cooking time for most asparagus will be about 15-20 minutes, but check it as ovens vary.

Assemble as pictured on top of the corn; corn, halibut, microgreens, asparagus.

Apricot Tart with Ricotta Marscapone Nut crust

Apricot Ricotta Tart

3-4 cups nuts of any combination or variety: blanched/blanched slivered almonds, raw cashews, macadamias
5 dried apricots
2 T melted butter
6 fresh apricots
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
1 cup mascarpone cheese
8 oz ricotta cheese (preferably sheep’s milk)
orange blossom water
honey
benedictine or other brandy/liquor

For the Crust: Chop finely the dried apricots. In a food processor, blend nuts and dried apricots until fine meal is formed. Add 2 T honey, 2 T melted butter and blend until sticky ball is formed. If too sticky, add more nuts. Should be able to hold together.

In a 9 1/2 inch tart pan, press out the crust evenly and then place in freezer or refrigerator to set for at least 30 minutes.

For the Filling: Mix the ricotta, marscapone, 1-2 tsp orange blossom water, 2T honey and 2-3T benedictine/brandy for the filling. Chill.

For the Topping: Wash and quarter the apricots. Start a simple syrup of 1/2 C sugar and 1/2 C water in a large sautee pan. When made, add the apricot quarters and reduce heat to simmer, turning occasionally until fruit plumps but does not fall apart. Remove pieces onto a cool platter as they finish cooking. After fruit is removed, gently raise heat to create apricot caramel.

Bake the tart crust at 350 for 15 minutes until coloring golden. Remove and let cool thoroughly or pop into freezer/oven to bring it down.

Fill with ricotta mixture, top decoratively with apricot slices. If you want the topping to be glossy, melt some red currant jelly in a pan and brush on top. It will dry clear as pastries from a bakery.