Sunday, September 27, 2009
San Francisco is one of the greatest cities for unique, trend setting and outstanding food. It is almost impossible to have one single favorite place, so I have come to the conclusion that I have MANY favorites. If Julie Andrews were to sing “One of my Favorite Things” about restaurants, perhaps Slanted Door would be included in the lyrics.
Charles Phan is the executive Chef at Slanted Door which creates modern Vietnamese cuisine using local produce and ecological farms located in the Bay Area. The atmosphere is modern with a chic spin on the décor. A lively crowd mixed with locals and tourists alike. Highly recommend making reservations to this local hotspot – Open Table is my "go to" for reservations. (http://www.opentable.com/)
My vacation week was filled with seeing friends and eating at great restaurants. Two of my great foodie friends, Monica and Jeanna planned headed to the San Francisco Ferry Building for a great lunch and catching up with each other. (Monica is pictured with me) We sat outside on the patio area, since the weather was absolutely perfect. Decided to share a bunch of dishes and try some new things.
We started with the Slanted Door Spring Rolls with Shrimp, Pork, Mint and Peanut Sauce. So refreshing and perfect for enjoying the bay breeze and sounds of the busy walk ways. Next we enjoyed the Grapefruit & Jicama with Red Cabbage, Pickled Carrots and Candied Pecans. This salad is simply amazing and the flavors meld so well together with a light crunch and sweet balance of the candied pecans.
For our main dishes we had Lemongrass Chicken with Red Onions, Jalapeños, Roasted Chili Paste and Peanuts. The jalapeños were soft, not hot and perfect with the lemongrass infusion. We also enjoyed the Caramelized Tiger Prawns with Garlic Onions and Chili Sauce. Absolutely delicious!
Just a quick note: A must try martini is the Phantasm – Lemongrass Vodka, Lime, Falernum and served up. It is very addictive and super tasty – you will want another!
(Wikipedia definition of Falernum: Falernum is a sweet syrup used in Tropical and Caribbean drinks. It contains flavors of almond, ginger, almond and/or cloves, and lime, and sometimes vanilla or allspice. It is used in cocktails in a manner similar to orgeat syrup or drunk on the rocks. The syrup form can be alcoholic or non-alcoholic. The consistency is thick, the color can be white to light amber, and it may be clear or translucent.)
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Panini with Roasted Pork, Caramelized Onions, Cheddar and Bacon
What a terrific way to use left over roasted pork tenderloin for a sandwich PACKED with flavor. Add your favorite mustard or even some blue cheese!
Roasted Pork Tenderloin
For each sandwich, cut about a 5 inch slice of ciabatta bread and then slice in half to open it up. Remove some of the excess bread if desired. Brush each outer side of the bread with olive oil. Start on the bottom slice by adding a slice of cheddar cheese, then several thin slices of pork tenderloin, then about 3 or 4 slices of the bacon and top with caramelized onions.
Place onto a panini pan or press. Cook for about 5 to 8 minutes until all ingredients are hot inside and the bread is crispy. Enjoy!
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Since I have a week off from work, I thought it would be wonderful to catch up with friends and try a new restaurant each day, except Thursday, since I need a day to clean out my closet. Today my long time good friend John and I chose Metro in Lafayette.
Urban meets suburban at Metro in Lafayette, which is a local hotspot for lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch. (A must have if you go for brunch is the Zeppole - delicious fried puffs of goodness, similar to a Beignet, with a dipping sauce) If you are in the mood for a relaxing happy hour outside on the patio, check out their fantastic martinis. An eclectic menu consisting of California, French, Asian and Mediterranean flavors always having you want more on the menu than your appetite.
Executive Chef Kirk Bruderer creates innovative as well as staple favorites for every diner’s palate. He gained his experience at French Laundry, Olivetto and Manresa – which gives him the green light to have a fantastic restaurant located in downtown Lafayette.
Today was a warm day outside, about 90 degrees and we decided to enjoy the patio with an abundance of green umbrellas. We began with an ice tea and an Arnold Palmer along with a fresh baguette and butter. John selected the Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Brown Butter Crème Fraiche and I had the Crispy Brussel Sprouts with Lemon & Aioli to start. For our main lunch entrée we both chose salads. John had the Cesar with Anchovy, Shaved Reggiano, Garlic Crouton and Rosie’s Organic Chicken and I had the Chopped Salad with Crispy Bacon, Avocado, Egg & Buttermilk Blue Cheese Dressing.
Overall the service was spot on and the food was tasty and fresh. It was great to catch up with John and enjoy my first day of vacation with a good friend and terrific food.
3524 Mt. Diablo Boulevard
Lafayette, Ca 94549
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Oven Roasted Tomato and Goat Cheese Tarts
When a tomato is oven roasted, the flavor profile takes a 180 degree turn. The sugars are more prevalent and there is an intense tomato essence that is so incredibly tasty. Along with the rich, buttery and flaky crust from the puff pastry and the earthiness of the goat cheese, it is true food experience. Add a side salad and glass of your favorite Sauvignon Blanc to complete a terrific meal.
2 Sheets Puff Pastry
2 ½ Cups of Assorted Cherry Tomatoes
Salt and Pepper
8 T. Herbed Goat Cheese
Defrost the puff pastry.
Preheat oven to 350. Cut the assorted cherry tomatoes in half until you have 2 ½ cups. Spray the bottom with non-stick cooking spray. On a large baking sheet lay all of the tomatoes with the seed side up. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for about 15 minutes and remove from oven to cool.
Lay the first layer of puff pastry on a large lightly floured board. Using a rolling pin, lightly roll the dough. Cut 4 to 6 circles that are 4 inches wide. Use a biscuit cutter. Lay onto a prepared baking sheet with cooking spray. Continue until you have eight 4 inch circles. Using the next size down on the biscuit cutter, make an indent until you almost cut all the way through but be careful to not pierce all the way. This will enable the tart to have raised sides.
Brush the puff pastry with olive oil. Divide the oven roasted tomatoes among the eight circles. Keep the tomatoes inside the second circle. Place one tablespoon of crumbled goat cheese on each one. Tuck some of the crumbles underneath the tomato mixture.
Bake at 400 degrees for about 15 to 20 minutes, until the sides are golden brown. Let cool for 5 minutes and right before serving, brush lightly with olive oil all over each tart for shine and flavor.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Deviled Eggs with Pimentos
Deviled eggs are the one thing that I instantly think of my Mom. This is a signature dish for her to make for the holidays and beyond. It is often requested by my husband when we have dinner at my parents house.
8 large eggs
5 T. Mayonnaise
Large pinch of cayenne pepper
1 t. Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper
Paprika for dusting
8 Green olives with pimentos
1 t. Cider vinegar
To prepare the eggs, put them in a pan covered with cold water and slowly bring to a boil. Add 1 t. cider vinegar to the water. Once boiling, reduce to low heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Once cooked, let cool under cold water. Use a large bowl with ice cubes and water to cool. When cooled, under cold water, gently crack the shell and remove.
Cut each egg in half lengthwise and remove yolks into a bowl. Add the Dijon, mayonnaise and cayenne. Stir together until creamy. Add salt and pepper to taste. Place about two teaspoons plus of the egg mixture into each egg and add more if required.
Remove pimentos from the olives and slice the olives into 16 slices. Cut the pimentos in half. Decorate the top of each egg with a slice of olive and pimento. Dust with the paprika and chill until ready to serve
Monday, September 14, 2009
Garlic Pan-Fried Bread and Chorizo
7 oz. Chorizo, outer casing removed
5 Thick slices – Day old country bread, cubed
Olive oil for frying
5 Cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 T. chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
In one pan, add enough olive oil to generously coat the pan and toss in the bread cubes. Turn on medium heat and toss the bread until completely coated. (Add more olive oil if needed) Cook for about 5 minutes or less until the bread is toasted, while tossing frequently. Before removing from pan, add the garlic and toss around until cooked – about one minute. Remove and let cool on a plate. Add the chorizo and cook for about 3 to 5 minutes until cooked. The chorizo will crumble and create a bit of oil. Drain into a colander with a lining of paper towel. This will absorb the excess oil before mixing with the bread cubes.
Wipe down the pan of excess chorizo oil and add the bread cubes back along with the chorizo. Heat for 1 to 2 minutes until hot and add to a serving bowl. Sprinkle with the parsley and serve.
Saturday, September 12, 2009
Mediterranean Grilled Shrimp
If you are looking for an extremely tasty appetizer that is a bit unique and your guests will love, try the Mediterranean Grilled Shrimp. Pick up a great loaf of crusty bread to soak up the wonderful sauce.
2 C. Olive oil
1 C. Fresh Mint, loose pack and sliced
1 ½ C. Cherry tomatoes, cut in half
2 Lemons, juiced
1 T. Lemon zest
6 oz. Feta cheese
4 Cloves garlic, minced
2 Lb. Shrimp, shelled and de-veined
Salt and pepper to taste
Mix together the olive oil, mint, cherry tomatoes, lemon juice and zest, feta cheese, garlic and salt & pepper to taste. I recommend making this the day before, so the flavor meld together, however, making a few hours before your guest arrive is perfect. Place in your favorite serving bowl and refrigerate if not using right away.
Coat the shrimp lightly with olive oil. Using an outdoor or indoor grill, heat on high for a few minutes. Add the shrimp and cook for 1 to 2 minutes per side. Once cooked add to the olive oil mixture to soak up the flavors. Continue until all the shrimp is cooked and added to the mixture. Serve with sliced crusty bread to soak up the tasty sauce.
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Sautéed Garlic, Lemon and Parsley Mushrooms
1 pound white mushrooms, trim stem and brush clean
5 T. Olive oil
4 Garlic cloves, finely chopped
¼ C. Fresh lemon juice
Salt and pepper
3 T. Flat leaf parsley, chopped
In a large skillet, heat the olive oil on high. Add the mushrooms and heat until the mushrooms have absorbed the oil. Reduce to medium heat and continue to cook until they are glossy and browned. (About 5 minutes) Add the garlic and cook for a couple minutes over medium heat. Finish with the lemon juice and cook for 30 seconds. Add the parsley and toss together. Serve hot.
Monday, September 7, 2009
My Spanish inspired appetizer plate is super quick and can be served for your next Tapas party. Simply put your favorite crackers on a large platter along with Manchego Cheese, Marcona Almonds, Fig Cake and Quince Jam. All of the flavors compliment each other incredibly well. Serve with Sangria or your favorite Spanish wine.
Manchego cheese is a sheep’s milk cheese made in the La Mancha region of Spain. Manchego is aged for three months or longer, and is semi-firm with a rich golden color and small holes. It ranges from mild to sharp, depending on how long it is aged. Let’s is sit out for about 30 minutes prior to your guests arriving; the flavors fully develop when it is not cold.
The Fig Cake was purchased from Whole Foods Market. It is a rich, dense and extremely tasty addition to your cheese platter regardless if you are having a Spanish theme. It is best at room temperature and pre-sliced to make it easy for your guests to enjoy.
Went to a popular fruit stand on highway 121 in Sonoma. From the road it looks like all they sell is fruit, but once you go inside, there is so much more. The selection of jams is wonderful. Picked up a Quince Jam made by Casa Giulia. Thought this would be a wonderful addition to the other flavors. Quince’s roots lie between the Caspian Sea and the Black Sea, a mountainous region called the Causasus that touches northern Turkey and Iran as well as Southern Georgia. The quince is not as shiny as an apple or as brilliant as a persimmon, but rather a cross between an apple and a pear. Since it is hard and produces natural pectin when cooked, it is ideal for jams and preserves.
Marcona almonds, native to Spain, are traditionally served after being lightly fried in oil and dusted with salt. These large, flat almonds are more crunchy and flavorful than the normal American kind. They are smoother and juicier with an incomparably sweet delicate taste.
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Our fabulous friends Mark and Dean, who relocated late last year to Arkansas from the Bay Area, were in town visiting. (Charles and I miss them and know they will be back someday) I decided to create a special menu just for them with Sangria and Tapas as the theme. There is nothing better than have little bites of goodness and then moving onto a new bite a few minutes later.
Tapas are small irresistible mouthfuls of some savory served with chilled wine, beer, sherry or sangria. They are a national institution in Spain and enjoyed with enthusiasm in almost every bar before lunch or dinner. The word “tapa” means lid, and comes from the sliced of bread that the innkeeper would place on top of a person’s wine glass to keep out the flies and dust between sips. The Andalucians then thought of the idea of balancing some kind of small food on top of this piece of bread, and tapas were born. Spain is definitely on my bucket list!
Handcrafted Red Wine Sangria
Spanish Appetizer Platter with Manchego Cheese, Quince Jam, Fig Cake, Marcona Almonds and Crackers
Citrus, Thyme and Garlic Olives
Grilled Shrimp with Mediterranean Sauce
Deviled Eggs with Pimentos
Roasted Pork Tenderloin Crostini with Quince Paste
Roasted Bell Pepper Salad with Sherry and Garlic Dressing
Garlic Croutons with Chorizo
Sautéed Garlic and Lemon Mushrooms
Quick Entertaining Tips:
1. Create menu and shopping list a week prior to the party
2. Take care of shopping two days prior to the event
3. Prepare as many items the day prior and place into plastic containers
4. Determine the order of the items to be served by cooking time
5. Walk through your preparation and visualize your dishes a few days before
6. Empty your dishwasher prior to the event
7. Set table a day before the event and shine your glassware
8. Create your ipod play list a week prior with Spanish music
9. Light candles an hour before
10. Arrange the appetizer platter 45 minutes prior to your guest’s arrival – cheese is better at room temperature
11. Enjoy your own party!