Trip to Berkeley, California

Friday, February 21, 2014
A few weeks ago my parents and I traveled to San Francisco for a weekend trip. Of course the trip was all about food. Our days revolved around where we were going to eat, so of course we had to head out to Berkeley for a day. The reason for that was Chez Panisse. Chez Panisse is owned by chef Alice Waters, the concept is to have a daily changing menu with the freshest ingredients possible. Alice Waters really brought the trend of farm to table to life and for good reason. Her restaurant is beautifully done and fits perfectly in Berkeley. If you ever have an opportunity to go I highly advise doing so. Here is what my parents and I ate for lunch... 
Roasted Beet, Grapefruit and Herb Salad with Nigella Seeds
Baked Andante Dairy Goat Cheese with Garden Herbs
Grilled Chicken Breast with Butternut Squash and Red Wine Panade, Little Turnips, Wild Mushrooms and Sage
Rigatoni with Rapini, Pancetta, Ricotta Salata and Toasted Breadcrumbs
Braised Lamb with Rutabaga Puree, Snap Peas, and Black Olive Tapenade 
Ginger Cake with Meyer Lemon Cream and Candied Kumquats

Happy Weekend! 

Tomato and Goat Cheese Tarts

Tuesday, February 18, 2014
While flying out to San Francisco a few weeks ago, my mother and I were obviously watching the Food Network together, attempting to make the long flight a little easier. We saw this recipe on Barefoot Contessa, a go to show of ours. As much as I like her recipes I usually tune in for the pure entertainment of Ina and her husband Jeffery. He is her official taste tester, which doesn't really say much, but I trusted him on this one! 
I love anything on puff pastry, especially when involving cheese and caramelized onions. What is so great about this recipe is the versatility of puff pastry. These could be made in a larger size for a meal, or cut into bite size pieces and served as an appetizer. Either way they are a must try! 
Adapted by Barefoot Contessa
Makes 2 6 inch tarts

1 sheet of puff pastry, defrosted 
1 tbs olive oil 
1 tbs butter 
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
salt and pepper
1 tsp fresh thyme
2 tbs grated parmesan, plus some shaved with a vegetable peeler
2 ounces herbed goat cheese
2 (1/4 inch thick) tomato slices
1 tablespoon julienned basil

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. 

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and butter until the butter is melted. Over low heat add the onions. Saute for about 20 minutes stirring frequently to make sure they do not burn. Add a sprinkle of salt and pepper along with the thyme. Cook for another 10 minutes until lightly browned, then remove from heat. 

Unfold the pastry sheet once defrosted and on a lightly floured surface roll out the sheet to an 11 by 11 inch square. Use a 6 inch wide plate or template to cut two circles from the pastry. Discard the scraps. Using a pairing knife, score about a 1/4 inch wide border around each circle. Prick the inside of that border with a fork, this will stop the inside from rising but allow the border to rise. 

Sprinkle the grated parmesan inside each circle. Place half of the onions into each one, staying inside the border. Crumble the goat cheese on top. Place one slice of tomato on each and sprinkle with salt, pepper and basil. Finally add the shaved parmesan on top. Place onto your baking sheet and bake for about 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown. 

Congo Bars

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Growing up, congo bars were a usual treat in our house thanks to our mother. Little did I know that the rest of the world called them blonde brownies. Personally, I like the title congo bars better because to me a brownie must be fudgey. While equally delicious, I would be classify these as gooey more than fudgey. 

No matter the name these bars are great, especially when eaten warm! I love the addition of walnuts and the use of chocolate chunks rather than chips. Maybe its all in my head but there is definitely more chocolate in a chunk than a chip. 

adapted from shutterbean
makes 12 big bars

2 sticks unsalted butter, room temp
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract 
2 large eggs, room temp
2 cups all purpose flour 
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup chopped walnuts 
12 oz. bag semi-sweet chocolate chunks

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour an 8x12 inch baking pan. 
In the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugars together on high for about 4 minutes. On low speed at the eggs one at a time and vanilla. Scrap down the bowl so it is all incorporated. Add the flour, salt and baking soda. Fold the chocolate and walnuts in by hand with a spatula until all equally combined. 
Spread the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 30 minutes no less no more! Let them cool completely in the pan then cut.


Toasted Wheat Berry Soup with Kale and White Beans

Monday, February 3, 2014

I am a huge fan of soup! Mostly because it is so versatile, it is a one pot meal that you can really use whatever ingredients you have on hand. 
When making a soup I like to make sure the ingredients are well balanced. So I always look to have a grain or starch, onions, carrots, celery and a green such as spinach swiss chard or kale. I personally like the taste of adding a little bacon or pancetta and maybe a type of white bean for a little extra heartiness. 

While those are all important ingredients, my number one must have in a soup is a parmesan rind. The saltiness and creaminess it adds to soup is essential in my eyes. Now I know not everyone goes through parmesan as much as I do, so luckily for you parmesan rinds can be found at Whole Foods! 

This soup is meant to be altered and changed depending on ones personal taste. The wheat berry can be easily swapped for farro or spelt as well as the kale for any dark green of choice, so have fun with your soups! 

1 medium onion, chopped 
1 small fennel bulb, cored, thinly sliced
2 carrots, chopped 
2 celery stalks, chopped 
olive oil 
3 oz. of pancetta cut into small pieces 
1 cup wheat berry 
2 garlic cloves, chopped 
salt and pepper
1 tbsp. tomato paste
1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
about 8 cups of low sodium chicken broth (2 boxes)
1/2 head kale, leaves torn into pieces 
1 15 oz. can cannellini beans, rinsed well
parmesan rind

Heat olive oil in a large pot. Add pancetta and cook until brown, about 4 minutes. Add onion, fennel, carrot, celery and garlic. Cook until soft about 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add wheat berry and cook, stirring often for about 3 minutes. Add tomato paste and red pepper flakes (this will be slightly spicy). Cook for about 1 minute to darken the paste. Add all the broth and parmesan rind and bring to a boil. Once boiling reduce heat and let simmer, partially covered until the wheat berry is cooked, about 1 hour. Stir in kale and beans and cook for about 4 minutes. Remove the parmesan rind. 

Serve the soup with drizzled olive oil, cracked pepper and shaved parmesan. A little bread doesn't hurt either! 

Peanut Butter Fudge Brownies

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

We’re back! We must apologize for our long absence, time got away from us and our schedules were very cluttered. But, good news! We have both managed to find a little more time in our lives for doing what we love. We hope you continue reading!

Now lets get back to business. I felt it was appropriate to feature a brownie as our first post back. This past year I have been focusing a lot of my energy on baking, whether it was on my own or in the kitchen at Flour Bakery, I have been trying my best to grow as a baker. 

These brownies are far from the ordinary. If you are someone who craves a cake like brownie than this is not the recipe for you, really. Fudge may be a better word for these squares, but lets not waste time on titles. 

What I love so much about this brownie is the contrast of textures. Between the fudge-like base, the crunch of pecans and the creaminess of the peanut butter on top you really can't lose. Oh but wait, there is one more part. A small amount of dulce de leche is swirled on top before baking, creating this crispy, sugary crust. I know it might seem like a lot, maybe too much, but I promise you it is just right. 

Makes about 16 squares

9 oz. good quality dark or semi sweet chocolate
2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 eggs
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 1/4 cup superfine sugar 
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour 
1/3 cup chopped pecans
3/4 cup peanut butter 
1/3 cup dulce de leche 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a square 9 inch baking pan.
Melt the butter in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Once boiling pour over the chopped chocolate and stir until glossy. In a separate bowl whisk the eggs with both sugars. Pour the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and stir until combined. Fold in the flour and salt but do not over mix in order to keep the brownies fudge like. 

Scatter the nuts on top and push down with a spatula. Dollop the peanut butter and dulce de leche on top and gently swirl in with a knife while leaving streaks. 

Bake for 10 minutes and then lower the degrees to 350, bake for 15 to 20 minutes more. They will seem uncooked but place them in the freezer for an hour or more. Remove from pan and cut! 

hello friends

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Hello friends.

So our catholic guilt has been eating us alive for abandoning this place. Not abandoning, but more like neglecting. We wish we had a better excuse, but life got in the way. 

Happy times, monumental moments mixed with some sad and trying ones too. Sometimes, something has got to give and although our whisking and wardrobing never stops, this did.We've realized that our creative outlet is an important break from the stress of work/school/life, so we're keeping it alive peeps! Lots of exciting things in the works.

Forgive us, and we'll be back now and then to share some fun things, travels, recipes and more.

Happy summer & talk soon!


Pickled Red Onions

Wednesday, October 31, 2012
One of the chefs I work with over the summer does one thing (among many others) extremely well when it comes to food. Pickle. Don't get me wrong he has many other culinary talents, extremely creative ones and I always seek him out when I am looking for advice. But really this man could pickle just about anything and it would be oh so good.
I decided I would finally give it a try myself, and while it may not be creative and adventurous as his pickling, as my first try I am giving my self a lack of creativity free pass.

What is so beautiful about pickling is how versatile it is, and who doesn't love a little versatility. First of all you can pickle just about any vegetable you have on hand, and you can also put a great deal of herbs and spices into your pickling brine. Oh an then when you have the finished pickled product it goes great on meats, fish, chicken and of course salads. SO many possibilities right!
The base of any pickling is water, vinegar, salt and sugar then it is your choice to add any flavors you want. Having the limited college fridge that I do I simply went with rosemary but you can add any hearty herbs that stand up to soaking in vinegar. Other great add ins are garlic, peppers, pepper flakes and citrus peels.

Pickled Red Onions

1 large red onion
1 cup water
1 cup red wine vinegar
4 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons sugar
2 sprigs rosemary

Thinly slice a red onion into rounds. In a large bowl combine water, vinegar, salt, sugar and rosemary. Stir until salt and sugar are dissolved. Add the red onions. Let sit for an hour or more, the more time the better. Store in the fridge in the pickling liquid.

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