Thursday, November 30, 2006

Stuffed Strawberries

My wife had her first photo shoot for the recipe book she is making today. In honor of this I thought I would post one of her fave recipes which will feature in the book. For now you will have to make do with my photography, but we will update in due course.

From the book:

Strawberry Dreams

When my mother-in-law turned 60 we decided to throw her a surprise party. The menu was set to be finger food and one of my very favorite creations was to be endives topped with blue cheese and spicy candied pecans. the evening before the party I started to stress, we had one small packet of endives and I just didn't know if it was going to be enough to serve all the guests, I needed an alternative vessel. I went to sleep in a fit of panic and during the night I dreamed of nothing but food and catering and recipes. When I awoke I had dreamed a new recipe. Everything from my dream I could remember clearly- hollowing out fat juicy strawberries, reducing onions in a thick gloop of balsamic vinegar, topping the dish with a crunchy spicy pecan. Of all the things I make this dish is the one which receives the most comments and recipe requests, people always ask where the recipe came from and I simply tell them- I dreamed it!

For the Balsamic Reduction

2 large onions thinly sliced
1 tbsp olive oil
1-2 cups balsamic vinegar

For the Candied Pecans

1 cup pecan halves
1/2 cup sugar
1tbsp lemon juice
dash of water
1 tsp chili powder

For the rest

25 strawberries
1/2 cup of gongonzola

Start by making the balsamic reduction. Fry up the onions until they are lovely and caramelized, sweet to taste. Then pour in the balsamic until it covers the onions plus some. leave to simmer until it gets thick and gloopy- you may need to add more vinegar. I like to simmer for an hour or so.

The most tricky part is the candied pecans . You basically just throw all the ingredients in a pan and heat on a medium setting. The sugar will melt and you will need to keep stirring for 10-15 minutes or so, coating all the pecans. I like to test one to see if they are done, the pecans should be crunchy but of course not burnt, the coating should be clear and shiny, in no way granular. Once they are done spread the pecans quickly on a piece of parchment, separating one from another with a fork- work fast or they will all stick together. If they do stick together you can reheat and start over.

One the pecans are done you can start to assemble the strawberries. Start by chopping of the top of the berry and lopping a tiny bit off the base so it can stand upright. then carefully hollow out the center of the berry. Stuff first with the balsamic onions, then with some blue cheese and finally top with a candied pecan. Beautiful and tasty!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Recipe Book News

My wife is currently working with a graphic design friend to create a vegetarian recipe book- with Jamie Oliver style artwork and photography. Hopefully we will be able to get some of the photos taken up on the web for this blog. they are kicking off with stuffed strawberries and spiced adzuki bean burgers on thursday- should be a fun time.

Saturday, November 25, 2006


Well, I thought I would share our Thanksgiving menu- so far Amanda's thanksgiving fare on what were' eating is the best spread I have seen on the Blogosphere.

Our menu:

Turkey- (Courtesy of America's Test Kitchen- the new best recipe)

Stuffing (with sausage or chesnuts)

Mashed potatoes with peas onions garlic and mustard

Purple potatoes mashed with buttermilk

Yorkshire puddings

Brussel Sprouts with Cannelini beans, garlic and pecorino cheese

Cranberry Sauce with pears and ginger

Onion Gravy (vegetarian)

Arugala, Orange and Goat cheese salad with pomegranates

Roasted Beets and Squash

Jello Salad with cottage cheese and pineapple

pumpkin pie
maple flan with pears
apple pie
lemon meringue pie

Yes- it was quite the feast, no room for more food for some time now!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

'tis the season

Well Christmas and Thanksgiving are just around the corner so we have started to kick off our mulled wine some evenings. Even living in southern California there is nothing like a nice mug of warm mulled wine on a winter evening- it certainly takes away the sadness caused by the shortening days.

Here is the recipe we have come up with (economic and cutting down on the sugar!)

1 bottle Charles Shaw Merlot
2/3 cup rum
splash Amaretto
1/2 wine bottle water
2 oranges (sliced)
1 lemon (sliced)
3 cinnamon sticks
1 cup splenda
25 cloves
2 tsp ginger
2 tsp allspice

Stir all together and gently heat never letting the wine boil. Heat from 20 minutes and serve in festive mugs!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

The Cheese Shop

One thing we have never really found in san Diego is a really good sandwich place. Saturday afternoon lead to the perfect opportunity to embark on such a search. After having worked all Saturday morning we were in the mood for a nice chill out at the beach, without the hassle of picnic making. A good sandwich seemed like the perfect plan.
Having a guest staying with us we decided to head up to La Jolla and see the seals, (unfortunately they had been scared off the beach by some of the pro- children's pool folks so that plan didn't work out too well.) Nonetheless the sandwich part of our trip turned out to be much more satisfactory. After extensive internet research we found The Cheese Shop widely recommended as the best sandwich place in La Jolla and perhaps even in San Diego. The shop is very simple and fun, stocked with many British chocolate bars and pantry items, and decorated with photos taken around the world with the cheese shop Frisbee.
A slight initial disappointment was that the cheese selection was not as extensive as the name of the deli might suggest- the sandwiches certainly made up for this slight lacking however. I went for the Pork Loin sandwich, my wife got the evergreen (the main veggie option) and our guest got the chicken salad. We picked up a few of the house cookies and a drink each and headed out to a nice picnic bench on La Jolla shores- (la Jolla really is so nice in November with all the tourists gone). All sandwiches were superb, the bread in particular was excellent, with the highlight being pumpernickel. Each sandwich was absolutely stuffed to the brim with ingredients, but bread was soft enough that this did not make for unpleasant eating. All salad components were incredibly fresh and the meat was of top quality.
Very happy with the cheese shop- a great value meal with a beautiful sea view!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Umi Sushi

As promised a photo from my first forray into sushi. It was actaully really good. I was a little surprised at my friends orders for me (knowing it was my first time) - really throwing me off the deep en. The eel was probably the most adventurous, it was really great until I remembered I was eating ell, and was then a little bit too icky. My wife got the vegetable tempura roll, which she really liked, although wasn't so keen on the rice or the seaweed. Would probably have just been better off with vegetable tempura!

Umi Sushi was a fun restaurant- wonderful presentation and service.

So here's a picture of Salmon Sashimi, so good. I was very surprised.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The Liar's Club

Things have been a little subdued in our household lately, trips out for dinner have been quite scarce and home cooked meals mainly have consisted of big batches of chili or soup. One of the reasons is that my wife is right in the middle of completing her Law School applications, a very tedious process that consists of a large variety of different essays, forms and other paraphenalia.
We will be moving away in nine months time and it occurs to me I will have to change the name of the blog when we do! Currently Good East in DC, New York or the Bay Area seem like the most likely options! What will I do when we move (apart from checking out all the best places in town). Well I really have to figure out moving forward with my career education. I've been looking at Educated Nation recently to try and get some inspiration of the way to go. I still sometimes think of Culinary school, Unfortunately the district of Columbia seems to only have online Culinary Schools, but New York and the Bay area both have great options.

Anyway back to the Liar's club... So after a very uneventful week we decided to go out for a fun night. First we headed out to Umi sushi was a lot of fun- photos may be added soon! Then it was on to Liar's club. This was my first visit to the bar and I was really very impressed with the selection of beers, my wife favored one of the Alpines (which she said tasted like peaches ??) and I really enjoyed a couple of the beers from Stone Brewing Company. The only slight let down of the night were the chili cheese fries (how can you eat chili fries without a fork, it just doesn't make sense).
After a while of being poked fun at by the very knowledgeable and slightly cocky bar tender we headed off to the beach, ending the night with a calming seaside stroll, and a little touch of the freezing water. Mission Beach is a fun place to go out, a big change from our usual Hillcrest haunts.