Monday, December 31, 2007

Best of 2007

We have had a great year cooking, eating and blogging with you all - thank you for your readership! We got to talking a couple of weeks ago and decided it would be fun to unveil us and to highlight some of our favorite meals from 2007. So, sit back, click on the photo link & enjoy!

We wish each and every one of you a very happy New Year!

Come dine with us soon in 2008!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Best of the Best ...

Sandra over at Un Tocco de Zenzero and Zora of 1x umruhren bitte are hosting the Best of 2007 recipe collection. We had a very hard time deciding on the one recipe that we felt was the best but we think we nailed it down to the most requested dish at our home - "The Grilled Veggie Lasagna".

We are going Nuts ...

about the Click Photo Event! This month's theme is all about Nuts. We had some extra Cranberries and Pistachios and since I wanted it to be somewhat "holiday" like, I mixed them up and recreated a favorite dish of ours, Sticky Buns for our friend, S. who was out visiting from Boston, we think he loved them! Back to photography .... we thought the color of the nuts worked nicely with the crannberries, so we shot away. As well, the buns were FANTASTIC!


Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Happy Holidays & Merry Christmas from Boston!

We wanted to take a moment to thank you for your readership the past few months, we could not have done it without you! We wish each and everyone of you a fantastic holiday season and we look forward to sharing our cooking with you in 2008! Come dine with us soon!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Buches de Noel

This is quick - as we are jumping on a flight soon. Wanted to share our December Challenge with the Daring Bakers - one of my favorite holiday desserts that I have not had in a while, Buches de Noel or otherwise known as the Yule Log.

I have more to write about this challenge and the comedy that took place making it but I will have to write more this week. In the meantime - Happy Holidays to each and everyone of you!

If you are inclined to make this for the holidays, here is the recipe (a little secret, it is very easy!!)!

Well, here I am as promised to write about the Challenge of the Yule Log. Now, I love Yule Logs but do not think I have had one in years let alone attempted to bake one. Remember ... I do not consider myself a "baker". Anyhow, I am definitely more comfortable behind my trusty and much loved kitchen aid lately and have been embracing the challenges. Unfortunately, I did not get to put the love I wanted into the Buches de Noel. I had all these visions of making a deep chocolate filling, or maybe one made of burnt caramel and bergamont or maybe a nice deep blood orange one, etc... then time took over our or my life. So, I followed the recipe, which is fine but I always like to add a twist when I am allowed.

The next part of the challenge for me was to do it at my sister's house. You say to yourself, what is that problem? Well, my sister D. does not cook, let alone bake, so I had to bring along pans, parchment paper, etc....and keep this a secret. You see we have been keeping this little blog a secret from our families and friends, and were waiting to do the unveiling over the holidays. So, my family could not understand my obsession with this Yule Log. I kept saying I joined this group and had to test the recipe - they went along with it as they are always eager to eat whatever I whip up.

The recipe was going along nicely ... batter was mixing up perfectly, tasted marvelous, I was super excited! Put it in the oven and forgot about high altitude. Fortunately, I remembered towards the end and got it out just in time. A bit crunchy but soft enough to roll - there is a god! The butter cream was Divine - could not keep the fingers out of the bowl - L. was yucked out about this! While, everything was chilling, I poured myself a glass of Christmas Vino and started on my marzipan mushrooms. I have to say - I was NOT happy about doing these, how the heck am I going to make this blob of stuff look like a mushroom. Well, it worked out fantastically! I was super excited, they looked great! Maybe a little to brown but they looked damn good! So, I set everything aside to put the log together in the morning for the big photo shoot - my family would clearly find me crazy once I started shooing pictures of a Yule Log!

Next morning I woke up, put the coffee on, laid out the rolled up cake and took the extra butter cream out of the fridge. Ahh, a hot cup of coffee and enough time to put this project together and just in time for the wonderful morning light to shine through for the photo shoot! "WHERE ARE THE MUSHROOMS?" I ask a few times. My sisters standing there - "I did not do anything with them." I am going crazy by now! Then my sister D. says, "the ones on the plate last night; I threw them away, why would you want old mushrooms for a cake?" Needless to say, it was back to the drawing board and time to make the marzipan over and make new mushrooms - at least I had that practice run! As L. said, "I guess we can tell who does not get enough time in the kitchen, to be able to tell a real one from a fake" (hee hee ha ha).

So, we came clean and shared our little blog with everyone. I told the passionate story of the Daring Bakers and how I have come to love this group of talented bakers and welcome and grasp every new challenge with eagerness! That is our story of how the log became the Christmas Yule Log!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Menu for Hope

I feel terrible that the date slipped my mind - we meant to par-take more actively in this, than just telling you all and only donating! We still urge you to go and donate. The amount raised will go to support the school lunch program in Lesotho, Africa. For more information and the program, please visit one of my favorite blogs, Chez Pim and to donate visit here! Every little bit helps!

Our apologizes ...

for leaving you stranded in our kitchen for so long! We have had a terrible time, trying to find time to stay home - too busy, since coming back from the Costa Rica. Definitely, dying to get some quality time hunkering down at home - maybe 2008!

We did get a chance to toast the holidays with some friends of ours over the weekend - D., JT, & S. (who is in from Boston). I have been dying to cook a Cassoulet since taking my classes at Tante Marie - what better time than now!

Started the evening with a nice bottle of bubbly wine and Gougere Puffs - I did not have Gruyère cheese so I compromised and added what I had on hand - goat cheese! They came out a little heavier than usual but very tasty, especially with a glass of bubbly! We then moved on to the star attraction, Cassoulet! I was quite happy - the duck fell off the bones, and the flavor was fantastic. Could use a touch more salt but otherwise, very good. For dessert I whipped up a Chocolate Souffle. I had some extra pistachios so I crushed them with sugar in the old food processor and coated the sides of dish before adding the sinful part of the souffle. Not the same as I usually make, more like pudding with a crunchy topping, very rich and sinful. We highly recommend!

Overall, a fantastic evening. Great Friends and good food - the best way to ring in the holidays!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Tribute to Julia

I have to say I have never used a Julia Child recipe until tonight. We were craving something easy & French and I stumbled upon this recipe by the master herself.

Served it with a simple watercress salad with Tartelette's vinaigrette recipe. Wonderful!

Christmas Cookies

Susan over at Food Blogga is hosting a Christmas Cookies extravaganza. I had to bring some cookies to our annual cookie exchange party and figured I would kill two birds with one stone so to say. I normally bake up a storm during the holidays but time has just slipped away and this year, this will probably be it! Do enjoy!

I made some of our favorites around here, the traditional French Macarons. I decided to use Helen's recipe minus the peanuts. I did tweak it a bit, see my version here. I normally use a much more complex recipe and I have to say, I really liked how this one turned out. (mums, the word) I may be switching!

I filled them with a traditional Italian buttercream - one filling was a very dark chocolate and the other was flavored with crushed candy canes.

Applewood Bacon

Okay, I said we were back and I was ready to tackle the kitchen by my apron strings; but, then I got ubber busy with company, work, life! I finally had time to make a meal and boy did it feel good! Did not have much around the house as the other task I need to do is some "real" grocery shopping; but, I did not have shallots, garlic, broccoli, applewood bacon, Roquefort and pasta. So, I caramelized the shallots and garlic, added the bacon and broccoli. Then tossed it all together with the Roquefort and pasta. Pop open a nice red wine and Voila, dinner was served! Dessert was some French Vanilla Ice Cream (ashamed to say, not homemade this time around) topped off with some of our new favorite ice cream sauce .... Salted Caramel, recipe courtesy of Helen over at Tartelette .

Thursday, December 6, 2007

We are BACK

and ready to start cooking and have you over! Took last week off from the old apron strings and are ready to hit IT for the holidays! Be sure to keep checking in for some outstanding holiday bonuses! See you soon at Chez Denise et Laudalino!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


Before I jet off, I wanted to get my entry in for the Click event for November.

It was easy for us as we were craving one of our favorite dishes, Spicy Soba Noodles.

We used our Canon SD1000 for this shot with a macro setting.


L. is over in CR racing away right now, I am here trying to get myself ready for holiday and I have not cooked in a week. We started this blog with the intentions of sharing what we eat no matter what it is. Overall that is what we have been doing but as you can tell I have a tendency not to post what I eat when L. is out of town. I don't eat! Well, I do, but a bowl of soup is not that exciting for me nor for you, right? Occasionally, I do get a bit more daring and toss in a little extra morsel but this week, I have been trying to fit back into my teeny tiny bikini and just stay above water - too busy! So, what am I saying? It has been declared National Soup Week over at Chez.

I am off now, to meet my man for a much needed holiday! We are completely disconnecting in Costa Rica; no phones, no TV, no internet, no blogging, just us and a few icy cold beers and an abundance of seafood!

Come back & dine with us soon! Maybe we will bring back some new ideas for our kitchen!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Bon Voyage

L. left for the La Ruta de los Conquistadores, last night. We have been living and breathing biking for the past 11 months. This was our first Saturday in so long that we could lounge around the house on a Saturday, drink coffee, watch a movie and just enjoy each other company! In honor all of his hard work & to give a guy a decent meal before his trip, I used my skills learned at Tante Marie and made an outstanding dinner!

We started with a mixed green salad with a light French Vinaigrette. I picked up some outrageous Roquefort and forgot the bread, so I crumbled it over the salad. The cheese was fantastic and while good on a salad would had been better with a baguette - live and learn. Despite the raining day and night, we picked up some of these steaks we found a couple weeks ago - by far the best we have had, ever - and tossed them on the grill. Lightly seasoned with salt and pepper. The star attraction with our steak was my new favorite potato - potatoes fried in duck fat and sprinkled with sea salt. OH MY GOD! These morsels with a nice grilled steak and a full bodied red wine are to die for!

We kicked it up a notch for dessert and made crepe Suzette.

The entire evening was fantastic - the food, wine and most of all my hot guy, I am so proud of him!

Thursday, November 8, 2007


I love the salty and smoky taste on pancetta! Nothing like it when you saute it with some olive oil and then throw in some caramelized onions and garlic and some sweet broccoli! Easy meal when you toss it with some pasta! YUM!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Roasted Spaghetti Squash

The Denise of chez took the last week off - beat! Even though I LOVE to cook and especially for L., and it completely relaxes me, I took the week off! Back at it before we head out for holiday! Tonight I made a simple Spaghetti Squash with a butter/olive oil sauce made with shallots, garlic, capers, peppers and lemon. Light and fulfilling!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

I want to suck your blood .....

or at least eat your Vampire Cake! I got this idea from Baking Bites. I was going to make cute little coconut cupcakes to go into these adorable boxes I found for Halloween; but, then decided I need something scarier! I can not wait to give them to M, E, and M, when they come trick and treating tomorrow!

I made a basic chocolate cupcake, filled it with very red buttercream and then frosted it with more buttercream! Kind of tastes like a twinky - of course, I had to have one!!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

One Bostini Cream Pie & Two Forks, Please

The Daring Bakers strike again! Our hostess for this month's challenge was Mary over at Alpine Berry and she chose the Bostini Cream Pie. The original recipe is from Donna Scala & Kurtis Baguley of Bistro Don Giovanni in the Napa Valley as well as Scala's Bistro in San Francisco. By the way, the mashed potatoes at Scala's have even more butter in them than the Bostini!

Long story short, I put this challenge off until the very last moment - today! I just was not that inspired, maybe it was because I am not a big fan of the Boston Cream Pie and this was all to similar. Then I thought about it ... my man is from Boston, the Red Sox's will probably win the series and I should just challenge myself regardless if I like Boston Cream Pie or not. So, I seized the bull by the horns and did it! The recipe is very straight-forward and simple. I think I was done within two hours. My custard came out really nice - even though it did not set in the molds; but, I did anticipate this, so I saved some just in case. My cake had a spring to its step and the blood orange juice/zest I used was divine. You can not go wrong with dark bittersweet chocolate and butter for a glaze!

As I mentioned I was suspect on the custard in the mold and I am glad I went with my gut .... it did not work. So, I spooned the leftover custard on a plate and went from there! The outcome, we both really enjoyed it! The creamy vanilla custard was fantastic with the orange cake and a bit of chocolate. Would I make it again, Yes; but, for company who do not have a heart condition - something like 1000 calories a serving!

Unusually Warm Sunday Evening ...

We were driving over the bay bridge early afternoon and noticed that the bay was very calm ... almost eerie, actually. I hate to say it, as I just put L. for a plane, and I would hate to be home alone, but it seems like earthquake weather. Or maybe the eerie is because of the big H. day coming up this week. ;)

Regardless, we decided it was a good reason to pick up some steaks and toss them on the barbie! They were Marin Sun Farmsbeef steaks and they were OUTSTANDING! Really truly OUTSTANDING! Just coated with some olive oil, salt and pepper and grilled them up! Served along side was a warm "french" potato salad, which I learned in my French Cooking class a couple weeks ago. Can not beat a steak and potato dinner served up with a little red wine to wash it all down! Nice meal before putting my man on a plane .... :(

Saturday, October 27, 2007

SpaghettiOs with Meatballs

Not the kid kind though! This was the adult version! My friend E. found these cute little O's at Trader Joe's. As soon as I saw them, I knew I must have them. I made a sauce with slow roasted yellow onions, garlic and pancetta. Then I added some nice thick Pomi Tomato sauce as well as some left over red wine from the night before. I then created my famous meatballs and made them into minis, browned them and tossed into the sauce. After a couple hours .... Voila! Served with a very hearty Italian Red wine, can't beat it!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Thursday Night

another late night spinning. Luckily, I had a few minutes before we left to toss together a gratin. So all we had to do was pop it into the oven and Voila, lovely french food for dinner! This was an endive and prosciutto gratin that I learned to make in my French Cooking classes a couple weeks ago. When I started putting it together, I had a feeling L. was going to give it a BIG VETO like he did to the Leek Soup; but, he did not! It was too tasty with all that smokiness of the Prosciutto and cheesy sauce!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Cold Weather Food

for a WARM night! Well, the menus were planned last weekend so we will eat! One of our favorite winter dishes is a spicy Kale Soup with White Beans - L. loves an egg on top, I do not like eggs on things that they should not be on .... pizza, soup, etc... I have been dying to make some dishes from my French Cooking weekend so I tossed together this super yummy watercress and celery root salad. Dessert, we had some Roasted Pumpkin Ice Cream left over. I found it not as sweet as I would had liked so I made a warm caramel sauce for the top - okay, after sitting in the freezer for a day and a half the pumpkin has really combined in flavor and with the caramel sauce on top, can you say "Thanksgiving"?

The Incredible Edible Egg

to the rescue. We love our Tuesday Night spin class, except for the fact that we do not get out of there until almost 830pm and our instructor is informing us that we NEED to drink a liter of water and eat protein within the next 45 minutes to fully reap the benefits! Okay ... besides eating a crappy bar this is next to impossible. By the time we walk thru the gym, say hi to a couple people, get into the car, drive home, look for parking and then attempt to make something, we are past the 45 minutes! Until now! We declare Tuesday EGG NIGHT!

Sauteed zucchini with shallots and olive oil turned into an Omelet served along side a tossed green salad and some crusty warm bread ... and some water and a Liter of Wine?! ;)

Monday, October 22, 2007

Fall was almost in the air .....

Last week, definitely felt like fall ... crisp air filled with the aroma of crunching leaves and even rain, that left us cold, damp and turning on the heat. This inspired me to grocery shop thinking along the lines of comfort foods - lots of apples, squash, whole wheat pastas, that sort of thing; warm cozy food! Well, the weather turned, the day was hot and the evening was romantically warm. Which was good as it gave us a chance to put away the patio heater, the deck umbrella and clean up the garden.

Tonight's dinner started out as a cozy warm evening in (due to what we thought was a early fall/winter arrival), but came around as a nice evening at home, together! Linguine and Clams served over whole wheat pasta! A glass of crisp buttery white wine! A loaf of warm Crusty Bread! Homemade Roasted Pumpkin Ice Cream for dessert - which, was inspired by my step-mother's pumpkin pie recipe, she makes the best pie I have ever had!

As well this dinner was part of a special event GYO -Grow Your Own. Our hostess, Andrea, over at Andrea's Recipes initiated it. Thanks to the insane weather we have been having ... rain on & off the past couple of weeks, upper 70's and low 80's this week, our herb garden is doing outstanding! All the peppers we thought would die are turning vibrant red and the basil and thyme are growing like crazy again! For this dish we used our Portuguese Peppers and Basil from our garden.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

As good as Chez Panisse (almost)

Well ... the next best thing! Poached Egg with Curly Endive Salad, courtesy of Alice Waters and the Art of Simple Food. The salad was delicious - simply delicious! I love this style of salad and always forget just how much until I have it. This recipe will or has become a staple in our house!

Dessert was the last of the Mascarpone Ice Cream with the last of the season Blue Organic Strawberries which I roasted and we will have for another couple months - slurpy yummy!

Roasted Chicken Soup cont .....

Late night Tuesday w/working and the gym. So, I took the left over soup soup from last night and threw in some soup I had hid in the freezer ... remember that oh, so delicious soup from the past!? Served with a toasted baguette and goat cheese which was sprinkled with Thyme from the garden and cracked black pepper. The perfect way to end the evening? Why, homemade marscapone cheese ice cream drizzled with Scharffen Berger Chocolate Ganache.