Saturday, September 27, 2014

Tapioca Pudding - comfort food

I almost needed to call this tapioca pudding lemon - but it wasn't flavored or dyed yellow - except by these exceptional yolks! Tapioca is a love it or hate it thing - but I promise you might be more inclined to like it if you had it from scratch. It is a much bigger pain in the butt to make but well worth it - as most things go. instant takes the work and the greatness away. 

Beat eggs yolks and sugar until light yellow?? Not with these yolks!

 Tapioca Pudding 6 servings

1/2 cup large pearl tapioca (they look like little beans)
2 and 1/2 cups whole milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup sugar
2 eggs separated
1 tsp vanilla

Soak the tapioca covered in water overnight. Drain the next day and add to milk in a large pot along with salt. Cook over low heat, stirring frequently - you don't want it to boil - until tender about 35-40 min. Meanwhile separate eggs and beat yolks with sugar until "light" in color (HA!) then add a little of the hot mixture to the eggs, beating to temper it and then pour into the pan and continue to cook until thickened - about another 15 min - on low and stirring so you don't end up with scrambled eggs! In another bowl beat the eggs whites until stiff then remove the pudding from the pot and fold in the whites and stir in the vanilla. Serve warm or cold with fresh fruit if you like - maybe a dollop of strawberry rhubarb jam or plain works too!

Thursday, September 25, 2014


 I have to say this had been an odd tomato season - nobody seems to be overwhelmed with tomatoes - I did grow a couple cherry tomato plants and ate them hand over fist for a couple months - but I haven't been boiling pots and pots of them to put up for the winter, maybe that will come but for now I'm just enjoying them every which way I can - and here are a few standouts.

Baked Tomatoes with Pasta serves 2

2 oz thinly sliced pancetta (or bacon will do) chopped
a couple tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs (use a good bread and whiz up in the blender)
2 large tomatoes, tops sliced off and squeeze out the seeds gently
1 clove garlic sliced

Fry the pancetta until lightly crisp then remove and add an extra tablespoon olive oil to the pan and toss the bread crumbs around until toasted. Put the tomatoes in a small roasting pan and stick in the garlic slivers. Mound on top the bread crumbs and pancetta then drizzle with another tablespoon of the olive oil and bake at 350 degrees for about 40 min - or until soft. I then remove from the oven and peel off the skin (I hate skin and it easily slips off after baking, just don't destroy the tomato shape) and serve over a bowl of pasta - drizzle a little more olive oil, some freshly ground pepper and parmesan and let the tomato melt into a sauce on your pasta with the crispy bits.
No recipe needed - Ripe tomato slices, fresh mozzarella, proscuitto salad, drizzle with olive oil and pepper

Chunky tomato soup topped with a fried egg
The title on the soup says it all - I just do my basic tomato soup (chopped tomatoes, onions, carrots) and for this version I put in a couple chopped peppers. Then to make it a rich and satisfying meal I fried an egg and slipped it in. With a drizzle of chili olive oil you are set.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

What a spread!!

Seriously - could dinner look any better - I think not. I love when we have these nights - just the two of us and my fresh baked country bread are the basis of this fantastic meal. Add smoked turkey, salami, stinky cheese, pate, mustard, a variety of pickles and some seckel pears.  Oh yeah, I did include a cuke, tomato and feta salad too. Life is good.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Some of My Favorite Places in Healdsburg

Keep meaning to post this - my neighbor and I decided to come up with a list to give to friends when they come visit. Here you go!

Tips for Healdsburg

Very nice for a drink on Friday and Saturday nights they have live music if you want to relax.

Funky and Fabulous – no California wines served so lots of fun other world wines and local beers. Music sometimes on weekends. Great local hangout.

Spoonbar – Bar
Best cocktails by mixologists – not merely bartenders! Sit at the bar and indulge! Don’t bother eating at restaurant.

A MUST for breakfast! Especially the scones and cappuccino – best in the world! Charming Europeanesk setting with fabulous outdoor seating and organic everything!  Not to mention Kitchen Eye Candy! Great shopping for a cook. Also great space upstairs for events

If you want a decadent breakfast but fun casual place go here. Right on the plaza but don’t drink the coffee – go down the street and get Flying Goat.

Great simple breakfast – but on the weekends they have Eggs Benedict to die for and cinnamon bread without raisins!  skip coffee get it first from the Shed

Parish CafĂ© – n’orleans lunch
Great lunch – off the plaza but best shrimp po’boys this side of the Mississippi! Leave your diet at the door. 

Campo Fina  - Italian restaurant
Must go to the back garden.  Play Bacci Ball, have a glass of wine and nibbles by the bar.  Charming!  

Barndiva California cuisine
Charming outdoor lunch or dinner.  The setting is hard to beat both indoors and out! Dinner is pricy – lunch or brunch is better. And you must have a reservation – it’s a small place. Then wander to their shop a couple doors down to look at local art.

Bravas Tapas restaurant
Great also in the back garden.  Fab drinks and small dishes.

Great casual burgers and fries outdoor seating. They smoke all their own meats. Full bar.

Adorable movie theater that serves wine of course!

Shopping – Walk the plaza! Lot’s of great places.

Outside of “town”

Jimtown store – along Alexander Valley Road on the way to
Calistoga great lunch - if they have homemade soup that day get it! Always great.

Great hangout on Alexander valley road by Medlock Ames winery – sip a cocktail and wander the veggie garden and watch the sunset over the vineyards.

Diavola – Italian restaurant in Geyserville – worth the 6 mile drive. Innovative Italian plus great pizza.

Just happened to get Eggs Benedict at Costeaux with Rich this weekend -Look at that smoked ham! and Bacon!

Of course this is by no means the only places we go, just a good list to start on! See you around! 
One of my favorites at Campo -Burrata with prosciutto and toast

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Italian Cream Cake - for my mom

My mom's request for her 90th birthday lunch - Italian Cream Cake - and really how do you say no to someone turning 90! I had an old recipe of hers for this cake but the one time I made it, it called for vegetable oil instead of butter and it was just odd - a bit too moist; so I searched the internet and found this recipe by Emeril and it was delicious. The only changes I made were to only use a cup of sugar for the cake and to toast some extra coconut for the top. It was moist and loved by all. I should definitely make this for my friend Paula K who LOVES coconut.

Post note: her birthday was July - took me awhile to post, summer is just so busy!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

More Zucchini to love!

Love the fabulous green hue! These are my zucchini pancakes (or fritters if you like). I had been craving these and made one recipe of Ina Garten's but hers called for baking powder which I didn't really want as it made them too much like a pancake and I wanted them to be more like a potato Latke (pancake, but not breakfasty). Anyway - this batch turned out perfectly. Served them for dinner with a store bought roasted chicken (yes, that is ok in my book) and a tomato, cuke, feta salad - perfection!

Zucchini Latkes (or pancakes or fritters) makes about 10-12

3 medium sized zucchini grated
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1/4 onion grated finely (I used a zester so it just melts)
1/4 cup flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
couple tablespoons olive oil

Grate the zucchini - I ended up with about 2 cups packed and then salt and put in a colander and let drain for about 15 min. Squeeze out all the liquid you can then place in a big bowl with everything else except the oil and mix with a spoon. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry in patties, maybe a heaping tablespoonful. Let cook until lightly browned then flip and brown on other side. Serve sprinkled with maldon salt - I think you could even do the latke thing and serve with applesauce and sour cream - or ketchup! Even good the next day warmed up...

Monday, September 8, 2014

Excess Zucchini? Hide it in rice!

I'm not really one of those "hide your veggies in something else" people, but this was a really great way to get your veggies and starch together in one dish. Served with some grilled salmon on a plank - perfect easy meal.

Zucchini and Rice side dish serves 4

1/2 onion finely chopped
olive oil
couple small zukes shredded
1 cup white rice (you could do brown, just increase water and cooking time)
2 cups chicken broth or water
chopped cherry tomatoes (optional, but they look cute)

Saute the onion until soft in the olive oil in a medium pot. Add rice and toss around to coat. Add broth or water cover and cook for 15 min on low. Add the zucchini and stir, cover and cook another 5 min or until rice is done. Serve topped with chopped tomatoes and some chopped basil if you have it. (I had some purple basil growing, so that is what looks oddly black in the photo!)