Tuesday, April 1, 2008

We've Moved!

We are very excited to share with you our continued dining experiences in the same small kitchen, just a different look and feel.

Come dine with us at ... Chez Us!

French Cab Franc

We have been wanting to par-take in a WBW event for sometime, but never have had the chance. Not only is this our first one; but, it is also about an area we love - French Wines. Gary, from the Wine Library is our host for this event - thanks for picking a great region! We are not sure how to really write about a wine as we usually just drink a lot of it and write about food, so we decided to break it up with each of our comments!

We chose a 2005 Cuvee de la Chevalaerie Bourgueil at the price of $16.00

We opened the bottle and let it sit for about 15 minutes, to "breath". I did take a sip after opening, mind you, only a baby sip. It was hard on the palette - lots of rough tannins and a strong alcohol scent.

15 minutes of breathing ....... I thought the color was a rich ruby and the first smell was earthy almost that of wet dirt. The Tannins were still pretty strong and the alcohol scent was still there. L. (who loves to drink all wine, but really does not know much about them) also thought it was a bit tannic and rather light. He did taste some berries and thought the bouquet was wonderful and well as the powerful color.

30 minutes of breathing ....... I thought the smell was not as intense but still somewhat earthy/mossy. I was getting a bit of a plum scent as well, rather jammy actually as well as a bit of spice, maybe pepper. L. still tasted the tannins and felt the smell was not as pungent and he did taste some earth at this point.

1 hour of breathing and time for dinner..... I thought the wine had really softened up and you could really taste the fruit (berries/plums) as well as a bit of spice that was somewhat green, maybe a bit of a bell pepper. L. thought we should just eat dinner and enjoy the wine!

Overall, we both loved the wine, it really softened up and had lots of flavor, a rather complex wine by changing so much during the evening. We gave it a 3 wine glass rating (out of five)and would definitely drink it again. I feel that it would be a good wine to cellar and try in one year and again in two years - I see it really developing even more.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Fried Dough .... again

at least the recipe! With reference to my post about fried dough; otherwise, known as Malassadas or Filhoses, I have received many requests for the recipe. I have to apologize as I was waiting for approval to leak the secret recipe. Drum Roll please ........ Malasadas!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

March Click Event

Here is our entry for the March Click Event!

Great Grandmother's Silver for everyday because everyday is special for us.

The Perfect Party Cake

Moven over at Food Art and Random Thoughts is the hostess for this month's Daring Baker Challenge. I was going to sit out it out as it has been a challenging month for me in so many other ways .... did I really need another challenge this month? As well, I was scared to have a big beautiful cake sitting around the house for L and I to devour. When I woke up yesterday morning I told L how I was going to use this months challenge as one of my two, to not do. Even though I felt it would be the easiest one I have done as of yet. Well ...... he convinced me that I should not give up and I should do it.

So, yesterday at 5pm, I was making Dorrie's Party Cake, to take over to an impromptu dinner party at our friend's J and A's home. Was I crazy to try to make a cake at 5pm for a 730pm dinner party!?!?! Kind of.......

The recipe is so simple to follow, everything just started falling into place, so easy. The house smelled of sugar, buttermilk and sweet Meyer Lemons - was delicious! Then came the time to whip up the buttercream .... I could not keep my fingers nor my sweet little god-daughters out of the shiny meringue and buttery goodness - we were being pretty naughty over the kitchen aid!

I used tart raspberry preserves for the filling as the recipe calls for. I was worried I may run out of buttercream to frost the cake so I did skimp on the buttercream between the layers - now I know better. I opted out of the coconut part of the challenge only because I am not a big fan of flaked coconut.

I was finished with the challenge by 645pm, just enough time to wipe off the flour from my hands and pretty up for a dinner party. The cake turned beautiful and what a wonderful combination of flavors. The tartness of the buttermilk, the sweetness of the raspberry preserves and the freshness of spring that came from the Meyer Lemons was really nice. The cake was light and not to dense and the buttercream was amazing light and fluffy. We served the cake with a chilled glass of Lemoncello - everyone loved it!

Thank you L for convincing me not to give up on this challenge and Thank You Dorrie for creating a beautiful recipe - we will be using this more often!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Down Under again ...

I was enticed to jump on the Donna Hay band wagon, again! Vanessa over at Vanessa Frida's Journal, enticed me! As well, I just had to make this Coconut and Basil chicken, again, as Diane and Todd over at white on Rice Couple sent us this fantastic care package, which had the missing ingredient from the recipe - Kaffir Lime leaves!

All I can say is ... these leaves made all the difference! I halved the recipe and put two leaves in, while I was yoga'ing all I could smell was lime. My stomach was a grumbling! I was simply amazed at what a difference this made. Bursting with flavor almost too much flavor - maybe just one leave next time. Sorry Honey, you missed a great dish tonight; but, I will definitely make it again for you!

French Onion Soup

I have been DYING to make French Onion soup - don't ask me why, because I do not know. Maybe it is the looming French Gourmet magazine on our counter ... not sure. L. was getting ready to leave town so I figured I would load him up on onions and garlic, not sure why I decided to do that either!

I have this recipe from Moosewood cookbook, that I use. I found it about 20 years ago and love how simple it is to make and how rich it tastes. I have tweaked it over the years ... I now slow cook the onions until they are caramelized and I add some garlic to it as well I do not make it vegetarian. I use a good rich beef stock - I love the richness of the beef stock and the color the soup turns.

To serve I toast slices of baguette, that have been drizzled with olive oil and rubbed with crushed garlic. The richness of the stock and onions really compliment the garlicky goodness of the toast!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Breakfast for Dinner

We did not make a big Easter breakfast, brunch or dinner, like we normally do. I did have a dinner planned; but, then after waking up, we decided to be low-key and just relax.

So for dinner last night, I made what I had intended for Sunday night - Eggs Benedict and roasted Tarragon Asparagus. I stole the idea from a post I saw on White on Rice Couple's blog - Sunday Breakfast. I also associate Easter and Spring with Roasted Asparagus and Eggs Benny and what the heck, breakfast for dinner is always something fun to do!

Definitely was a nice change!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Happy Easter!

From our kitchen to yours!

Virgin Pork Tenderloin Chef

I have never made pork tenderloin, even though it is one of L.'s favorite dishes. I found this recipe for a pork tenderloin with arugula endive and walnut vinaigrette in the March issue of Gourmet magazine (which is dedicated to French Bistro cooking - one of our favorites!!!). Since I was not working yesterday, I decided to make a special dinner for L.

I was a bit nervous for some reason. Maybe because it was my first time or maybe because it is one of L.'s favorite meals or maybe because he talks about how great his mother's tenderloin is. Not sure why, but I was a bit nervous.

After I laid out all the ingredients, I even read through the recipe, which is something I never do - I usually pull everything out and just start cooking. This quick read through definitely put my mind at ease and I was excited at this point, this would be easy and I was confident very good. L. poured a brandy and relaxed and I started doing what I do best, cook. The recipe was really easy, you sauté the pork with a little olive oil and then put it in the oven to continue roasting. While it is cooking you make a salad of Arugula (I used spinach, mishap at the market) and endive. After the porker is done, you make a really nice caramelized vinaigrette using the pan juices, some red wine vinegar, toasted and crushed walnuts and garlic - the garlic really gave this vinaigrette a great deal of flavor with the pork and the salad, together.

I was so happy, my tenderloin came out ultra moist, you did not even need a knife to cut it, and it was very flavorful with the salad and the vinaigrette. L. did say it reminded him of pate, maybe because the pork was so fresh? Or maybe he is use to his mother's recipe. Regardless, I am not afraid anymore and we will be eating the "other white meat" more often!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Lemon Risotto with Chili Shrimp

with Bill Granger, well, not Bill Granger himself but one of his recipes. You must be thinking that L. and I have taken Chez down under these days, first a week of Donna Hay and now Bill! I have not made on of his prized recipes, in awhile and decided that I would make this for Goretti and Patricia's last meal with us; something special.

I love this risotto recipe as not only is it light in flavor; but, with ingredients as well - no cheese and no butter. Just the basics here, stock, olive oil, onion and rice and then flavored with lemon zest and lemon juice at the end. Served with it is a spicy garlic and chili shrimp. You quickly sauteed the shrimp with some olive oil just until golden and a nice pink, then at the very end you add this wonderful paste of garlic and chilies. The finished result is a nice spicy garlic shrimp (the hot part of your dish) cooled off with a warm and ultra creamy lemon risotto. I love to serve a simple oven roasted asparagus that is lightly drizzled with olive oil and sea salt with this dish, it really compliments the lemon in the risotto.

Definitely takes you down under for a night!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Whoo Hoo

I have been meaning to blog about this great package we got in the mail last Friday; but, have been so busy with family in town and work, that I have not had a chance until now.

I had mentioned in a previous post, about Coconut and Basil Chicken, that I could not find Kaffir Lime leaves so I have to use Lime Zest ...... well, Diane and Todd over at White on Rice Couple (you should be reading their blog for some great fun!!) read our post and offered to send us some lime leaves. So NICE!!! Well, even nicer, was receiving this great package in the mail - full of Kaffir Lime leaves, Kaffir Limes, Mandarins and Meyer Lemons and all from their yard!! We were super excited to receive such a great package and we can not wait to use everything - well, everything that is left. Mandarins did not last long - not past one night in fact!

Bloggers are great - Thanks Diane & Todd!!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Tarragon and Pancetta Roast Chicken

L.'s aunt Goretti from Boston and his cousin, Patricia, from the Azores are visiting us for a few days and I decided to try out a new dish on company; which, mind you is something I usually never do. I have a standby roasted chicken dish that I seem to serve whenever we have people over for dinner from out of town. After all, you can not go wrong with the chick, everyone loves a good chick, right?! Well, MOVE ON OVER stand-by chick, you have just been replaced by the new chick in town - Tarragon and Pancetta Roasted Chicken!

This chicken is not only SUPER easy but it is so darn good. The skin is raised on the chicken and lightly stuffed with a breadcrumb, tarragon and pancetta mixture and then cooked to perfection. The stuffing sealed in all the juices, making an ultra moist and juicy chicken - so succulent! I usually do not care for tarragon; but, with the saltiness and flavors of the pancetta it was just like spring time in Italy!

You have to try this one, it will be your new favorite dish to fall back on.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Thai Basil and Beef Salad

Donna Hay, again! Love Love Love this recipe! You can tell by this recipe that we are in the summer edition of her magazine. Very tropical tasting with the lime and ginger in the dressing and cool and refreshing with the bite of the cucumber with just enough kick from the spicy red pepper - kind of grabbed you at the beginning and then just drifted into your taste buds! The beef fillet we used was from Marin Sun Farms - can you say BUTTER???!! The beef from this farm, has to be the best there is, at least in this area. Melt in your mouth, no need for a steak knife beef, just melted onto the coolness of this salad! YUM!

You will definitely be tasting more of this over at our house.

Roasted Fennel Rice (otto)

The past few months we have been big Fennel fans - love it so much that we are going to attempt to grow it this year, eeks! We love it sliced up raw in our mouths or in a salad, slow cooked with a chicken or now, roasted with shallots and garlic for the topping of a rice (otto) dish I had been dreaming up while on the treadmill - I do some of my most creative cooking thinking while working out!

Risotto also known as Arborio is a staple in our house. I ALWAYS have at least a cup of it in the "pantry" so that I can whip up a nice basic Risotto when in a pinch as what we should eat. Why should this night be any different?

I poured a nice glass of wine, turned on some Sade (it was just that kind of night) and started the prep work of roasting my sweet little fennel. Smells of licorice, garlic and shallots filled our house and they were caramelizing perfectly! Now it was time to heat up my stock and start the meditating process of cooking the risotto.

Where was it? Not where it should be. It should be somewhere is our tiny pantry. I tore it up, no where. Just a cup of brown rice. S#*&! I had a great filling and hot broth, what the heck I would give it a whirl. After, what seemed liked minutes, I realized this would never work. Rice does not make risotto. Tossed in the broth and slow cooked it. Luckily, it was somewhat soft and creamy rice so I tossed in a pat of butter and a little Parmesan at the end and topped the mixture with the lovely caramelized fennel. On the upside the nuttiness of the brown rice went nicely with the fennel and cheese. Not risotto but a darn good dish of rice (otto)

Friday, March 7, 2008

Hay Hay Hay

Another fantastic Donna Hay recipe was cooked at our house last night. I am in love with her recipes - so simple and so good!

Thursdays are our late night to eat so I am always looking for something simple to cook, that is not a left over, from a frozen box or can; something fresh, easy and delicious. The Asparagus and Mint Pasta was just perfect.

This dish SCREAMS Spring and Easter. A light cream sauce made of minced garlic, lemon juice, asparagus, mint and sweet peas (okay they were frozen, but I imagine fresh ones would be pretty fantastic as well). I was afraid that the sauce may be a bit heavy with all the cream that is added; but, it was exceptionally light, very refreshing with the Meyer lemon and mint undertones. We use whole wheat pasta which is not as pretty, but I like to think it is "healthier" as well it added a nutty flavor which blended very well with the sauce and salty pancetta chips that garnished the dish.

This is a great dish to add to your Spring menus - flavorful and easy, dinner in under 30 minutes!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Coconut and Basil Chicken ....

Donna Hay style!

I was not going to blog about this as we were having a pretty crappy evening last night and I have come down with this nasty cold, again; but, I just looked at the photos that L. took and I just had to tell you all about it! Not only is this dish incredibly easy to make but it is so tasty.

Just imagine it ..... Lightly seared chicken breast which have been seasoned with only salt and pepper, then you rip them to shreds while making this ultra creamy broth of ginger, lemongrass, garlic, coconut milk and fish stock (I used chicken stock, fish stock freaks me out!!!). When everything is cooked (only takes a mere 30 minutes) you ladle the broth over the shredded chicken and top with diced spicy peppers, Thai basil and Kaffir Lime leaves (I can not find them in the bay area) but we used zested lime instead. Oh my .. just thinking about it makes me hungry all over again! I served some simple brown rice along side it, just in case we needed a filler, but you really don't, the dish is plenty!

Here is the recipe ... more Donna Hay on the menu for tonight!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Lemon Pork

The past few days have been very busy and have left us very little time in the kitchen. When I read Tartelette's post about her fruit salad with Blood Orange Syrup, I knew exactly what we had to do! So our day started with us having our friends, the M.'s over for breakfast - MEM gave me a waffle iron for breakfast and I was anxious to break it in! Perfect way to start our day ... good friends, homemade waffles with Blood Orange Syrup and lots of coffee!

The past couple of months, I have been visually inspired by Donna Hay. We own a couple books and I have recently discovered her magazines - a must have if you love to cook! Unfortunately, I do not cook from them that often, mainly because I just forget. This week we have declared it Donna Hay week at our home.

What I love about her recipes are that they are simple and use very fresh ingredients. Tonight we decided to go with a Lemon Pork dish. I did adapt it a little. I used eggplant instead of tomatoes, did not have lemon thyme so I zested Meyer lemon on the top. The dish came out beautifully. Bursting with flavor - the milkiness of the pork, saltiness of the pancetta, a bite of garlic, the savoriness of the thyme and the zing of lemon created a wonderful marriage of flavor. The taste was very fresh, clean and likable!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Daring Baker's February Challenge - Pain Francais

The Daring Baker's challenge for February was hosted by Breadchick Mary over at The Sour Dough and Sara over at I like to Cook. Drum roll please! It was Julia Child's Pain Francais. (click here to see more photos of this challenge)

When I first read the recipe given to us by Breadchick and Sara, I was scared, very scared, 15 pages of instructions! WOW, this was going to be the mother of all challenges for me thus far. I was sure I was going to use this as one of my two I could bail on. Then I stared reading other comments from fellow DBs and I became inspired, should we say very inspired or just DAMN INSPIRED! I could not wait!

There was only one weekend in the entire month that I could do this and we were kind of busy - friend in from Hawaii, errands, dinner with friends - but, I knew I could make it work. So, Saturday rolled around and I did errands, worked, picked up the house, blah blah blah and dinner time hit! "Damn, I forgot the bread and now I had plans on Sunday with the friend!!!" But, I was confident that I could make it work ......

I got up early Sunday, started the lengthly process. So, far very good! The first rising was perfect and right on my tight schedule! Got it all ready for the next round of keeping warm and headed out for lunch and shopping with friend. It was hard to cut it short and fast because of a loaf of bread, so it ran a little late. Got home, still perfect! All was working out so well. I was very confident and very happy. Proceeded with the remaining steps and then molded the dough with my new pastry canvas and tucked it all in next to a warm heater and headed out to dinner! We had a fantastic dinner with friends but once dessert ended I started watching the clock and thinking about my perfect little breads at home. Again, I did not want to bolt over a pan of bread, so I held out as long as I could and finally told L. we had to leave. Then they started talking about after dinner drinks - NO!!! Thank god the host decided to kick us out since it was a school night!

Got home and all still looked perfect! I could not believe I had done it and still had a day of fun without sitting at home waiting for all the rising to take place. Now was time to unmold the beauties and get them ready to bake! Only 30 minutes until I could call it a wrap and head to bed!

Well, let's just say - never be over confident when baking bread, especially this bread! They collapsed! They were flat baguettes! The color as beautiful! The texture was fantastic! The flavor was well, very french! But, something happened when I unmolded them - lost all their air, they were flat!

Moral to the story ..... Never be over confident until they come out of the oven! Was it a challenge - of course! Was it fun - definitely! Will, I make them again - on our next rainy weekend!!


We had some left over dough from a Jamie Oliver night - tossed it into the freezer, thawed today and then let it rise for a couple hours tonight, while we were at spin class. It came out wonderful! Topped it with some caramelized shallots and garlic which I added some crushed fennel seeds and chili peppers to while it cooked. I topped the crust with a very small amount of mozzarella and then tossed the shallot mixture and some arugula over the top. The finishing touch was some pancetta, crushed pepper, sea salt and a drizzle of olive oil!

Was fantastic!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Simple Salad

We are back on our spin schedule, which means we need to come up with a couple easy meals for Tuesday and Thursdays. Not only did we get home late but there is nothing really left in the fridge since we were playing in Yosemite last weekend instead of doing house stuff.

I was able to toss a a couple cutlets(who knew Lil's cutlets would go so far) into the freezer, from the other night; before, L. devoured them. At least we had some protein to work with. As well we had a half of a head of butter lettuce in the fridge and some frozen pizza dough left over from the HHDH #17 challenge. What did I come up with, you are asking yourself?

I rolled the dough out very thing, topped it with some fennel seeds, olive oil, sea salt and crushed pepper and baked it into a thick and crispy cracker. While the pizza was crisping away, I tossed in the chicken cutlets to warm them up. In the mean time, I tossed a salad together of lettuce, red onions, chick peas and made a light dressing of olive oil, red vinegar, and lemon juice. Once everything was cooked and warmed, I chopped up the chicken and tossed it into the salad. Simple and easy and ready in 30 minutes.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Gift from Austria

We received a very nice gift from a business colleague in Austria - two bottles of Klug-Voltl Gelber Muskateller Wine and a bottle of Kernöl Oil, otherwise known as pumpkin seed oil.

In keeping with the RSBC superfood challenge, we used the Kernol oil as our pumpkin - after all, it is made from pumpkin. Does this count? To start off our meal I tossed together a salad of red butter leaf lettuce, thinly sliced red onion, toasted hazelnuts and then I drizzled the Kernol oil over the top. The oil is rather rich in flavor and texture, instead of the usual balsamic vinegar, I squeezed some Meyer lemon over the top as the acid part of the dressing. Tossed it with some sea salt and crushed pepper. The oil is not only rich in flavor and texture but also very nutty, it definitely complimented everything in the salad. It was very good!

Not sure what to serve with the wine, so we opted to make some of Lil's chicken cutlets. This time I threw fresh rosemary, thyme, garlic and a chili pepper in the food processor with the bread crumbs and made a very fragrant breading. The flour mixture I added some smoky paprika, salt and pepper to it. The different layers of the wine (pear, melon, a little green apple as well as a bit of mineral) really complimented the cutlets. We really enjoyed this meal full of new and exciting flavors!

We thought the crispness of the wine would also be perfect for a summer picnic - guess what we will be doing with the next bottle! Thank you Rainer!

In keeping up with the RSBC Challenge, I ran 3xs and we both biked 15 miles.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

My Birthday

I have been on the "I am 40 fence" for the past year, yesterday around 7 am (birth time - it really is not your birthday until that time) I jumped over the fence and I am officially in my 40s. WOW! I do not feel 40; but, then again, what is a 40 year suppose to feel like? We laugh about how we take more vitamins now and how we have to exercise like a crazy person to drop those 5 pounds; otherwise, I am not 40. :)

I am lucky that I have a supporting family, fantastic friends and a man who is always there for me! I think Jen over at Use Real Butter really summed it up when talking about doing things for the one you love; L and I feel the same exact way. Now for a birthday, I feel that, this day is yours and only yours and you should definitely do what you enjoy. We did spend the day at the office working - we are starting a business together - which is exactly what I wanted to do. Then he surprised me by telling me he was going to cook dinner for me. Now this is BIG! He never cooks and when he does it is the one thing he knows how to make, his signature dish, Chili. While, I LOVE to cook, I was welcoming this evening of relaxing! And he seemed very excited to surprise me with an evening of food by Laudalino.

Let me set the visual for you - we have a tiny one bedroom apartment, maybe 450 sq feet in total, and our kitchen (kitchen part is no more than 20 sq. ft.) is part of the living room/dining area, so there is no where to go relax unless I want to go for a run in the garage, leave the house for awhile or take a nice glass of Lillet into the bedroom and work. I took the Lillet and left him in the kitchen to have fun! It was humorous when our friend D. stopped by with flowers and gifts, to have her come into the room I was confined too; but, we laughed as we (L and I) always seem to make it work!

While I am sipping and chatting with D. there was the occasional dish falling or pots being banged in some strange matter but not once did L. ask for help. I was becoming even more impressed, he was doing it! I was so happy and surprised to come out and find the table set (with candles even), a small gift (a little journal, a "love" journal) and a wonderful meal of his ever so famous chili right down to all the extras - avocado, sour cream, cheese, onions, corn muffins and a nice bottle of wine. It was really fantastic! I was very surprised and very happy - My MAN did this for me! I was very touched by his love for me!

We did laugh during the meal as he started a whole new food craze last night - instead of Euro/Asisan food it was Euro/Mexican food. He made the chili not only with beef but Italian sausage. The "cheddar" cheese was actually a hard orange cheese from France - very flavorful and rich. The wine was very full bodied Italian. As well he admitted to how tired all this prepping and cooking left him (notice him falling asleep during dessert) and that now he knew why I was so tired at the end of the night. Puzzling?!

It really is the little things that matter the most. The fact that he put all this effort into making my day special, was the best gift of all! We will be taking Chez on the road to Yosemite this weekend, for the rest of the birthday celebration and to just chill, read some books, shoot some photos and completely reconnect; so, until next week .... have a great weekend!

Come dine with us soon!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Guess What was for dinner ....

You guessed ..... right! Again & again. What more can I say? Hmmm, we hate leftovers and have had the same thing three nights in a row - we can not believe it! Thank god it is like a fine wine, ages well with time. To shake things up, I tossed together a green salad with tiny sweet tomatoes and goat cheese! Promise we will be eating something new very soon.

Do come back and dine with us again!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Leftover Night

I was bumping around the world of food blogs today, when I should have been working, when I stumbled upon Sunita's World. Sunita hosts a monthly event about spices we have never taken part in this; but, after I began reading about it, I became interested. I saw that the current month's challenge involved Star Anise, now I was not sure what I would make with it as I usually just use it as a prop in photos, then I suddenly remembered that I used it in our Japanese Pot Roast and since we ate out last night we were dining on this outrageous meal again, tonight! Let me tell you after sitting in the fridge for a day, the flavor really blended even more, it was even more fantastic. You have to try this recipe!

So, here you have our entry for Sunita's very fun event!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Japanese Inspired Pot Roast

While, we have only joined Meeta in one of her Monthly Mingles - we had a great time. I was not going to do this months only because it was a "one-dish" meal and what comes to mind for us involves a crock pot food or casserole type meal, neither appealed to us, so we decided to sit this one out.

I was getting ready to put away my February issue of Food and Wine, when I decided to take one last flip through it. There on the cover was the topic, "the Ultimate One-Pot Meal". I slowly turned to page 101, thinking it was going to involve a crock-pot or would be a casserole. So happy to see it was a nice slow braised meal cooked in one-pot and in the oven. The perfect meal for the lazy Saturday night we were planning.

FW gives you four options and we chose the Japanese style. We did use a few potatoes instead of the Daikon. As well I cooked Udon noodles instead of the egg noodles they suggest. The pot-roast was very easy to make and while it is cooking the house smells truly incredible. Great way to get the mood going for a "lazy but romantic" evening.

While the roast was slowly cooking we used up the left-over bubbly from our pre and Valentine's dinners. We added a couple splashes of Bonny Doon Framboise and garnished with raspberries. What a great way to end your day and start your evening!

Then it was time to really chow down on the pot roast and buttered udon noodles. The roast was very tender and the carrots and potatoes were not over cooked, a slight crunch to them still. The broth was very flavorful - the saltiness of the Soy Sauce, and the sweetness of the Mirin and the Star Anise (which I almost did not add as I like to photograph with them) brought a very interesting flavor, a little spicy and not overwhelming, very exotic, definitely worked very well together - we loved it! Served a hunk of crusty bread with it and we popped open a lovely Bordeaux from the Loire Valley. For dessert we had a couple meringues left over, which, I made with my sweet little 4 year old friend, E. for Valentines - she is all about pink and love - I topped them with raspberries and drizzled deep dark chocolate over the tops.

Truly a great evening with the one you love!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Second Week of Run, Swim, Bike and Cook

Happy to report that we are still doing the challenge with Chou over at Balance. We did much better this week and are beating down the cold, that we both seem to have now! I got in three power walks as well as a run - felt great! L. got in a spin class and some bouldering. Next week should be a better week!

As for the cooking portion of the RSBC challenge, the food was Quinoa or Beets and it had to be a dessert. Well, since I could not figure out a way to add a beet to dessert and for that matter, L. does not really like beets, I went with Quinoa. We love Quinoa - we actually eat it a lot; but, mostly as a side with dinner, not a dessert. This was a challenge. I found one recipe on the Food Network for a pudding . Figured it would be somewhat like rice pudding so I went with it. It came together easy enough, smelled good, looked good and tasted okay. I put it into some cute little bowls, put it in the fridge to chill while we had dinner with some friends and half way through dinner I just had second thoughts - thank god I did not serve it, it was terrible!!! Oh well, guess we will stick with Quinoa as a side with dinner. Great challenge, though, Chou!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Valentine's Day

L. and I really do not "celebrate" V~day. We both are strong believers that all these special "things", should be things that are done throughout the year, not saved up for one "big" day. And, since we eat pretty well on a nightly bases, why should this night be any different or for that matter stuck out at a restaurant, paying over priced prices for food that is not that good because it is so busy - save it for a rainy day! In the same breath, it is kind of hard not to get a little sucked into all the pink & red fluff everywhere, so I do always pick up a little token of my love, a bottle of pink bubbly and a card.

Now, since I LOVE to cook as well, I know L. was expecting the big fancy french meal; but, I surprised him with a Jamie Oliver pizza of Pancetta, artichoke hearts and an egg! He was quite surprised!

For dessert I made L.'s favorite dessert, Iles Flottantes - a big Thank You to Tartelette for a wonderful recipe! Not only was it delicious but very easy.