Cooking Eating Dining Sharing

Monday, April 1, 2013

Table Tops!

I was very inspired last week after having the chance to go to La Tavola Linens' gala party for their new 2014 linen lines.  What a beautiful array of tables linens, flowers, and table top decor that is mostly unique to La Tavola.  All these beautiful colors and designs will help us create a beautiful table top for any event of yours!   Think Spring Weddings with some of these great designs.  Or re-imagine them with a touch of fall.

The colors make you swoon!  The fabrics are even more beautiful in person than the photos.   I apologize in advance if some of the pictures are a little blurry,  I was balancing food, wine and photo-taking and couldn't seem to stop any of the activities once I started.   The Fremont Diner did a fantastic job with the food- mini oyster po'boy sandwiches, crostini with goat and asparagus, arancini with peas and a BBQ pork slider.   Crisp made a beautiful dessert buffet as the coup de grace.  What fun!

Here are some of La Tavola's beautiful linens that were set up for us to admire and applaud.   I hope you enjoy!!  Tricia
Easter Special
Our local Gelato purveyor


My favorite/Indigo batik fabric
April Showers 

Springy double designs

Monday, October 29, 2012

OK folks!
Here I am...back from afar....not really, but just seems like it- have been seriously busy since May- and now I see what is meant by the tourist season- when people visit the wine country- May- October is the best weather- but honestly, for us here, the good times are just beginning.  With the slow down of business, it allows all of us in the service industry to relax, sit by the fire, read, get caught up with friends and family and BLOG!

So with that in mind I made this delicious soup- inspired from the Bi-Rite cookbook, I swapped their parsnips- for fennel instead.  It is a creamy french style soup- pureed with a little cream at the end.   Topped with fresh Italian parsley it is a perfect start to any Autumn meal.
After the liquid is added- the mustard gives it a nice yellow color
Potato, Celeriac and Fennel Soup 

Potato, Leek, Fennel and Celraic Soup

1 TBS unsalted butter
1 TBS olive oil
2 LG leeks, finely chopped
Kosher salt
2 LG yukon gold potatoes, quartered
1 small celeriac, chopped medium
1 small head of fennel, chopped medium
2 LG cloves of garlic, left whole
1 tsp mustard
4 Lg sprigs of thyme
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup dry white wine
4 cups broth; chicken or vegetarian
1 cup water
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 TBS lemon juice

Top with a dollop of creme fraiche or chopped chives

In a soup pot or Dutch oven melt the butter and heat the olive oil, add the leeks.  Cook for a bout 5-7 minutes or until soft.  Add the garlic, potatoes, celeriac and fennel.  Cook for another 10 minutes.  While stirring, add the mustard, thyme, and bay leaf and continue cooking for another 2 minutes or so.  Add the wine and cook until all the liquid has evaporated.  About 1 minute.  Continue to cook, partially covered, until the veggies have started to soften.  Using an immersion blender, carefully puree the soup until it is completely creamy.  If you prefer a thinner soup- you can add a little more broth.

Serve hot with a crostini, chopped chives or a dollop of creme fraiche.

Happy Cooking!  Tricia

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Glen Ellen Star

Three time's a charm when you are looking to drop in on the hottest new dining spot in Glen Ellen. The Glen Ellen Star restaurant opened less than a month ago to much  excitement and anticipation.  It's located on the corner of Arnold Dr and Warm Springs, you can't miss it in this small town.  Just follow the line of people walking in that direction.  Star's cheerful maitre' d will be waiting to greet you when you arrive and a delicious menu and cozy atmosphere.  

My favorite thing about this restaurant is the beautifully situated wood burning oven and open kitchen.  It allows for a visually pleasing taste of all the hard work that goes into putting together dish after dish.  Each plate is lovingly attended to by owner and Chef Ari Weiswasser.  Ari and his wife, dynamo Erinn Benzinger-Weiswasser wanted to create a warm, rustic neighborhood restaurant and they hit the nail on the head with an inspired interior space and a modern rustic cottage feel.  This style of cottage is similar to a lot of cottages that you might find dotted all over the Glen Ellen area, only this one has been upgraded to show open high-beam ceilings, new rustic wood flooring and a touch of modern, with light weight aluminum chairs.  Even the bathroom is stunning!  Along with the delicious food, these ingredients add up to a wonderful dining experience.

Last night, the sitting area around the open kitchen was filled with singles and couples all trying out the various menu choices.  I noticed two well-known local restauranteurs dining together, checking out their (friendly) competition and having fun in the process.   They were eating the delicious paella and lamb, (exquisite looking, by the way) with approving eyes and taste buds.  It was fun to see the wait staff dancing and whirling around them while keeping their wine glasses topped off.   My husband and I shared their special salad of grilled zucchini, zucchini blossoms, roasted potatoes, pickled tomato, and croutons with a couple of dollops of yogurt raita at $9.  Following the salad came a perfectly cooked Margherita pizza for $12.  A real deal!  With their wood-fired oven sizzling away in the background, you could taste it before it landed in front of you and into your mouth.  The crust just browned, tomato sauce, mozzarella and fresh basil is one of my favorite combinations.  What could be better for the arrival of summer?  Our main course was a delicious paella with perfectly cooked octopus and shrimp.  It was a little pricey at $25, but a perfect size for two, and worth every penny and bite!  We don't always order dessert, but who can resist homemade gelato for $5?  Salted peanut butter gelato anyone?  My husband was swooning, I thought he was going to fall off his chair. and if you can't finish it, that's fine, its served in a sweet 1/2 pint container with a lid for easy travelling.   Call ahead for a reservation or go online and check out their menu for take out.   Hours: Sunday-Thursday 5:30-9:00pm, Friday and Saturday 5:30-9:30pm  13648 Arnold Dr. Glen Ellen

Happy Dining!  Tricia

Monday, May 21, 2012

Early Summer

Freshly picked Radishes
Within just a few days, Spring seems to have subsided and Summer has made an entrance.  Its softer, warmer, and satisfyingly longer days of growth affects us just as much as it affects plants.  We rejoice in the warmer nights and bask in the beauty of each sunny day.  Our skin tone changes and we glow from it.  Just as we love the longer days of summer, our plants too respond to these long days.  My broccoli rabe and bok choy, planted just weeks ago, are already going to seed and flowering.  Too hot too soon? Lettuces are in need of a trim, as they too are not long for this world.  They will either be eaten or go to seed as well.   Such is the impermanence of the growing season, as it echos our own impermanence in this life as well.  Our children grow from an infant to a toddler, and before you know it, they are off to college or married with children.   Just as we pick fruit from the tree when it is ripe, we let go of our children in small ways at first, then larger as they set off on their own and push us away with their newfound independence and strength.

With daily reminders that we are different from moment to moment, there is wisdom in knowing our daily rises and falls.  Our own wisdom allows us to know when we are being too greedy or too passive.  Too ebullient, or too negative.  Just as a plant knows what kind of a plant it is, deep down, our own wisdom knows these things.  How does a pepper know its a pepper and not an eggplant?  How do we know when to slow down or when to speed up? When I look at the miracle of a seed and the sprout, with all of its genetic make-up in one tiny little package, it reminds me of a baby, a smaller version of us, but not quite us.  Its own unique and special individual.  Are plants individuals too?  They must be.

Often people are referred to as being in the spring of life, the autumn of their lives, etc.  It is obviously a metaphor, but its one that I think brings comfort.  To know that there is a season for everything. A time to be young, loose and fancy free, a time to be busy with focus, a time to relax, a time for raising children, a time to retire, a time to pass on.  It is nice to know that I can slow down if I want (not just because I am older, but that helps make the decision more clear)

I was just reading an article about Isabella Rosellini's new movie Late Bloomers, a comic film about aging.  Its a sign that the baby boomer generation is getting older and noticing it, big time.  Eyeglass companies are booming and it has probably spilled over into the hearing aid department as well.  As we accept each stage of our lives with open arms we don't have to fear the consequences of what is happening.  It is just what happens when you get to a certain age.  It is life, so to speak.  There is a certain grace that comes when you accept.  You can even see and sense the uncomfortable ones out there who aren't so comfortable with aging.

Late Bloomers, is probably just the beginning of the films we'll see out of hollywood on the subject, a place where it is rumored that you wouldn't recognize a 50 year old woman if you saw one (because their faces and bodies are so altered).  Is 70 the new 50?  As the director Julie Gravas (Costa Gravas' daughter) says, "...reaching 60 is a no man's land in between ages that need inventing-not as young as one thinks one is, though not as old as others may think."  I like that way of thinking, I will ponder that one as I go back to my summer gardening.

Homegrown Roasted Potatoes with Celery, Radishes, Cucumber and Herbs
This recipe can be made several ways, but tastes great with freshly plucked potatoes out of your garden.  If you have never grown them before, take some that have started to sprout and just stick them in the ground, about 6" under.  They will adjust themselves accordingly and before you know it, will sprout leaves above ground.  Keep watering the plants until they reach maturity, about 2ft high.  Pluck and watch the potatoes fall off the plant.  Dig a little so you aren't missing any below.  Its like a treasure hunt!

8 small white or yellow potatoes
Celery. 1 rib, finely chopped
Radishes, 2-4 thinly sliced, then finely chopped
Cucumber, 1/2 English or Persian, partially peeled, then finely chopped
Parsley, 1/4 cup finely chopped
Chives, 1 bunch, finely chopped
Shallot (optional), finely chopped
Olive Oil
White Balsamic Vinegar
Salt and Pepper

Roast the potatoes in the oven for about 30 minutes on 400 degrees.  You can also boil them. I usually quarter them first so I don't have to handle them when they are hot.  Either way they are tasty.

In the meantime, prepare the dressing by drizzling about 3/4 cup olive oil into a salad bowl.  Then drizzle about 1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper and whisk.  Finely chop 1/8 cup of fresh parsley and a whole bunch of chives, the celery and the radish and if you are opting for the shallot.  Whisk again to saturate the herbs in the dressing.

When the potatoes are done cooking, gently add them to the dressed herbs.  Be careful of the hot potatoes!   They will absorb a little more of the dressing if they are warm.  You can then lay them over fresh greens, or leave it by itself, or even add it to a nicoise salad.    Happy Cooking!   Tricia