Friday, December 28, 2012

Pickled Cipollini Onions

Onions, to be peeled
Canned and sealed

Having made mustard and lime jelly during the past two weeks, it was time for more pickles, as I was running low. In addition to carrots, we decided to pickle cipollini onions again. I have friends who like the onions in cocktails or with a ploughman's lunch, but I seem to use most of mine on burgers. However you choose to use them, they improve greatly after a few weeks of storage time.

Pickled Cipollini Onions
Based on a recipe from the National Center for Home Food Preservation 

We ended up making two batches, some packed in standard wide-mouth pint jars and others layered, as above, in taller, thinner jars.

8 cups peeled cipollini onions (approximately 3 pounds purchased onions)
5½ cups white distilled vinegar
1 cup water
2 teaspoons canning salt
2 cups sugar
4 scant teaspoons mustard seed
2 scant teaspoons celery seed
Thyme (optional)

Yield: 3 pint and one 1/2 pint jars

Peel onions. I find that cipollini onions hold their shape well when peeled (see the photo above.)
Combine the vinegar, water, salt and sugar in a stockpot. Bring to a boil and continue to boil gently for 3 minutes. Add the peeled onions and bring the pot back to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the onions are half-cooked (about 5 minutes).  
Meanwhile, place 1 scant teaspoon mustard seed and 1/2 scant teaspoon celery seed in the bottom of each clean, hot pint jar. I always add an optional thyme sprig, both because it looks nice and because I like the taste. If you are not a thyme fan you can omit it and/or experiment with a different flavor.
Ladle the hot onions into your jars, leaving 1-inch head space. Cover the onions with the hot pickling liquid, (a funnel helps with this) leaving ½-inch head space. Finger seal your jars and process in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes. 
If you have any brine leftover, as we did, I recommend using it for other pickles. We used our leftover brine for pickled carrots. For our usual pickled carrot recipe, see here. You could also use it for a refrigerator pickle of your choice, keeping in mind that the brine will have an onion flavor.

Carrots were part two of our project.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Albino Redwoods: A Few Pictures from a Guided Walk in Muir Woods

Our ranger guide, Tim.

You won't see the albino trees up above

But you should still look up.

And up!

Can you spot one?

Here maybe?

Closer and clearer.

They even feel different than the green.

It really does look painted.

Barely visible: a spawning salmon

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Rye & Brown Sugar Mustard

An easy to make mustard, perfect for holiday gifts. It is fairly strongly flavored, but I am imagining it as the perfect addition to a ham sandwich. We started with a recipe posted on the always wonderful Food in Jars, which turned out be a guest post from Kaela Porter of Local Kitchen.The recipe there, for Bourbon Brown Sugar Mustard, was adapted from Oktoberfest Beer Mustard in The Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving. As I have said before, if you don't have the Ball Book, buy it.

Rye & Brown Sugar Mustard

• 2 cups rye
• 1 cup water
• 2 cups brown mustard seeds
• 1 cup cider vinegar
• 12 tbsp dry mustard powder

 • 1 1/2 cups lightly packed brown sugar
• 2 tsp salt

Combine rye, water and mustard seed in a bowl. Mix well and steep until nearly all of the liquid is absorbed, about 4 hours, or overnight.
Using an immersion blender, blend to desired consistency.  Add vinegar, mustard powder, sugar, and salt and continue to blend well until combined. Transfer to a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Continue to boil mustard until it reduces to your desired thickness, remembering that it will thicken further upon cooling.
Fill jars leaving a generous1/4-inch headspace. Pass the handle of a wooden spoon along the edges and middle of the jar to eliminate bubbles. Wipe rims, finger tighten your lids and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

Yields about 6 cups. 

Monday, December 3, 2012

Pays d’Oc IGP: Candidates for Wines of the Tour 2013?

Located along the shores of the Mediterranean, the Pays d’Oc stretches across four departments of the Languedoc-Roussillon: the Pyrénées-Orientales, Aude, Hérault and Gard, as well as 6 communities in the Lozère
With 740,300 acres of vineyards — the region is three times the size of Bordeaux and the world’s largest vineyard area.
There are 56 authorised grape varieties. Approximately 60 % of the production is red with the additional 40% split between white and rosé.
IGP is a Protected Geo­graphic Indication that consists in producing grapes on a delimited appellation area, according to precise specifications and with total traceability and control over the geography and quality of the product. 

In 2013, the Tour will have three stages in the area:
Thursday, July 4th - Stage 6: 176km from Aix-en-Provence to Montpellier
Friday, July 5th - Stage 7: 205km from Montpellier to Albi 
Saturday, July 6th - Stage 8: 194km from Castres to Ax 3 Domaines

What will I be drinking for those stages? I admit that I do not yet know. But I recently had the chance to try a few samples, provided by
Inter Oc, the Pays d’Oc IGP wine trade association making a push in the US market. I invited two friends over to taste with me, as it is fun to see how we both agree and disagree on the wines. In general we thought the wines provided good value with "good for the price" appearing more than once in tasting notes.

The first empty bottle of the night and the wine that everyone chose as their favorite was the Domaine Gayda, Figure Libre Cabernet Franc, 2010 (SRP $25). The press release tells me that South African Anthony Record and Englishman Tim Ford joined forces with French winemaker Vincent Chansault to form Domaine Gayda in 2003. After building a brand new state-of-the-art winery, Gayda produced its first vintage in 2004. Inky dark in color, it is lively and fresh. 

We also tasted:
Domaine de l'Engarran La Lionne, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Grenache, 2010 (SRP $18-24) The press info stated that this family vineyard owned by the Grill / Bertrand family since 1923, has been run by three women for three generations. Green bell pepper and slightly jammy.

Laurent Miquel, Nord sud, Viognier, 2011 (SRP $12.49) Laurent produces his signature aromatic Viognier from selected blocks of mature, naturally low yielding vines at his family estate. All of us felt that this was a very good wine for the price with much more balance than one often finds in less expensive viogniers.

Anne de Joyeuse, Gargantuavis, Pinot Noir, 2010 (SRP $16.5) The press info on this one told us that Anne de Joyeuse is a high quality cooperative winery in Limoux, which was founded in 1929 and which currently boasts 650 members. Anne de Joyeuse is one of only ten wine cooperatives in France to carry the highest level of quality accreditation. We all loved the label in this one and thought that the wine was lighter than expected. 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

When Life Gives You Eggnog 2: Pumpkin Eggnog Waffles

Much better than the pumpkin eggnog

Moving along with our eggnog supply, we came to pumpkin. Again, this was not one of K's taste test favorites. I thought that like many pumpkin items, it tasted more like "pumpkin pie spice" than pumpkin. Muffins or cake would have been an easy option, but K has a favorite pumpkin muffin/cake already, to the tune of at least 6 batches since mid-October, so we looked further. 

Remembering a recipe we tested for the The Blue Bottle Craft of Coffee, K suggested that we modify their Zachte Waffles. So we did, taking out the sugar, substituting pumpkin eggnog for half and half, reducing the number of eggs and changing the spicing. These are make in the morning, no egg-separating needed waffles. As much as I enjoy the make the night before and let rest or egg whites separated and folded in gently versions of waffles, these are quicker and a much more K-friendly project.

Pumpkin Eggnog Waffles (modified from
The Blue Bottle Craft of Coffee Zachte Waffles)
Makes 8 waffles

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 large egg
2 1/2 cups pumpkin eggnog
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
freshly grated nutmeg to taste (optional, depending upon the spicing of your eggnog)

Preheat your waffle iron. We butter our iron right before adding the batter or have stuck waffles, but your iron may vary.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt and mix well.
In a separate bowl, combine the egg and eggnog and whisk to blend. Combine wet and dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Gently stir in the melted butter. Grate in  nutmeg. I like a lot. Pour into a pre-heated waffle iron and cook until slightly browned and crisp. 
Serve immediately. I like mine plain or with butter. K likes maple syrup or powdered sugar.
I recommend freezing leftover waffles and pancakes for easy weekday breakfasts. Simply reheat in the toaster. 


Sunday, November 25, 2012

When Life Gives You Eggnog: Cinnamon-Eggnog Loaf Cake

We have a lot of eggnog in our house right now. So much in fact, that we did a taste test.

 With tasting notes:

It was really too much eggnog to drink. Especially the flavors that K did not like as much. It was time to start baking. First up was the cinnamon, as it had the earliest expiration date. Also, if you can read K's notes above, it was not her favorite. But what to make? It seemed the place to start was with something simple that we could freeze and enjoy later: a loaf cake. We googled recipes and found a few that sounded great, like this one from Simply Recipes. But in the end, K opted to modify one we found on the Hood Website. 

One must move the gingerbread cats before baking can begin.

Rye seemed a better option than rum flavoring.

Cinnamon-Eggnog Loaf Cake with Rye
Makes 2 loaves

4 eggs
2 cups sugar
2 cups Cinnamon-Eggnog
1 cup butter, melted
1 Tbl Rye
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 1/2 cups flour
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt 

Heat your oven to 350°F. Grease two 9” x 5” loaf pans. 
In a large bowl (K used our Kitchen-Aid), beat eggs. Add sugar, eggnog, butter, rye and vanilla extract. Blend well. Add flour, baking powder and salt. Mix until dry ingredients are moistened. Do not over mix. The batter will be slightly lumpy. Pour into your two greased pans and bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a loaf comes out clean. Remove from pans and let cool before serving. 

K's verdict: "This eggnog is really good for baking.  I like it much better this way."


Thursday, November 22, 2012

K's Apple Marzipan Tart

Since K is always with her dad for Thanksgiving, she decided that we should do an early celebration on Wednesday. The keys, she said, were turkey and two pies. Plus, other stuff like mashed potatoes and stuffing, but they apparently are not keys.

Turkey turned out to a smoked breast from 4505 Meats. The pies on the other hand, were a source of great debate. I insisted on pumpkin, although it was really roasted butternut squash with eggnog substituted for the milk. Because, well, we have a lot of eggnog on hand at the moment so please, any baking with eggnog suggestions are really welcome. 

K originally wanted apple pie and despite my attempts to convince her that apple-cranberry would be more festive, refused to be swayed. However, at the last minute she veered left. In her words "Marzipan is awesome. And we have a lot of apples, so I thought this would be good. Also, tarts are easier than pies."

K's Apple Marzipan Tart

Note: I resisted the urge to step in and suggest a glaze as K wanted the tart to "taste like marzipan." I also might have peeled the apples and perhaps tossed with lemon and sugar, but K opted not to. She, of course, chose to smush rather than roll out the marzipan.
1 pie crust (We used the all butter crust from Serious Eats, the second half went to the butternut squash pie)
6 apples, cored and sliced
1/2 pound marzipan

Preheat your oven to 400.
Roll out your pie dough and fit into a tart pan. If you do not have a tart pan, this can also be made free-form on a baking sheet. Roll out or smush the marzipan, so it fits ion top of the crust. Cover with your sliced apples. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour or until the apples are tender and the crust has browned. Serve warm or at room temperature. 
K suggests that this makes an excellent breakfast the next day, even chilled from the refrigerator. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Vouvray TasteLive

"I like Vouvray," says my mom, my wine once a week friends, my wine almost every night friends and many of my I make my living from wine one way or another friends. Chenin, it turns out, makes many different people happy.  
Earlier this year, I hosted a Chenin tasting with a group of wine every night friends. Our line up included sparkling, dry and sweet. We paired the wines, as I like to do, with fried chicken from the very conveniently located Front Porch. Note that this is also a favorite Champagne pairing.

Lousy photo, excellent wines.
A few months later, I was invited to participate in a series of Tastelive Vouvray tastings. Essentially, I would be sent wines from the area and would taste them "live online" with a group of bloggers from across the country. Why not? 
First, a bit more about Vouvray from
Vouvray is the largest white wine appellation of the Anjou-Saumur-Touraine region and it produces splendid wines from dry and austere to the richest dessert wines, as well as excellent sparkling wines. Vouvray is made exclusively from Chenin Blanc, which has been grown in the region since the 4th century. The flint-clay, and limestone-clay soils lie on top of tuffeau, the limestone used to build the many châteaux of the surrounding countryside. The cool climate insures good acidity, which is balanced by the distinctly fruity character of the Chenin Blanc, and the mineral qualities imparted by the soil.
On average, 60% of each vintage is made into still wine and 40% is made sparkling. Sweet Vouvray is usually made from grapes that have been allowed to remain on the vine until overripe and shriveled by the sun and wind, so the percentage of dry to sweet wine depends on each year’s growing conditions.  In a cool year, only dryer wines are made but in years where warm weather continues into fall, harvest for sweet wines is delayed until well into November (the latest harvest in France) and there may be several pickings in order to harvest the grapes at their moment of optimum ripeness.

Twitter Tasting Night One

On night one we had:
Marc Bredif Vouvray Sec 201   (Bottle was corked)

I had four friends join me to taste. We paired, once again, with Front Porch fried chicken. Sadly, the Bredif was corked. Of the others, the group favorite was the Aubuisieres. I think the Chidaine would have done better with some air, but unfortunately, did not think to put some aside early enough. A lesson learned for tasting night two!

Twitter tasting Night Two
For night two:

Unlike night one, this second installment included a webcast co-hosted by Pamela Busch and Christopher Sawyer. As I have mentioned before, I love a seminar (really) and the information provided in the webcast was a big bonus. Sometimes the audio or video to accompany twitter tastings can be spotty, but this was clear. I thought the hosts did an excellent job of talking not just about the specific wines, but also the producers and region in general. 

Our first wine of the night was the Careme. With citrus and minerality, this seemed a perfect holiday party sparkler.
For me, the wine of the night was the second we tasted, the Huet. Citrus, minerality, acid, and balance, this wine was complete. This time, I did save some for the next night and even a third night and this wine continued to shine. I considered saving a bit to try on night four, but that will have to remain a mystery. 
Up third was the Gautier Argilex. I thought this wine was a bit closed at first, but with some air it showed pear and some floral nights. When I went back to it on night two, it was a far better wine.
Wine number four was the Foreau. As I wrote in my notes "speaking of homey." The jump from sec to demi-sec was larger than I thought it would be. It reminded me very much of the pears in honey syrup that I canned a few years back. Although it was nice to drink, it seemed young.
Our final wine was the Pinon. Even more pears and honey or as someone commented on the livestream "baked apple pie." This wine was an 05, but I again wish that I had a bottle or two stored away for years to come, as I imagine it will continue to improve with time.

At the end of the night, we were asked for five words to describe Vouvray. My words, from twitter:
Minerality, "food-friendly," floral, diversity, balanced.


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Roasted Purple Caulflower Soup

The cauliflower: gorgeous. The soup: not so much. But tasty? Indeed. Feel free to substitute white cauliflower for a more traditional look. Also, easy and perfect for the fall weather that has finally arrived in the Bay Area. 
A note about the ingredients. Normally I make my own chicken stock. But I had run out so substituted some from Eatwell Farm. And, wow. It is the best purchased stock, or broth as they call it, that I have ever had. So good that I now have 3 more in my freezer. If you are in area, note that they are running a special through the month of November. 
Also, this is Mariquita Mystery Box cauliflower. For more on that, see here.

Roasted Purple Cauliflower Soup
Yield: About 6 cups
2 heads purple cauliflower, cut into florets
4 garlic cloves, peeled
2 large shallots, peeled
4 cups chicken stock
1 bay leaf
6 tablespoons creme fraiche
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400°F. Cut your cauliflower heads into florets and put in a single layer in an oven-proof baking dish. Add the garlic cloves and shallots and roast for 30 minutes or until the cauliflower starts to brown slightly. 
Remove from the oven and add to a stockpot with the chicken stock and bay leaf. Bring to a boil over high heat and then simmer, for about 30 minutes, or until the cauliflower is very tender. Discard the bay leaf and add the creme fraiche before pureeing with a blender. I highly recommend an immersion blender. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve. 
This soup can be served either hot or cold and reheats well. 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Mariquita Mystery Box: Vegetables, Apples and Curious Cats

Willow and Oolong love the mystery box. Really.
Peppers, the new cat toy.
It has been a little while since I have written about the "Mystery Box" from Mariquita Farms. Instead, I've been posting pictures on twitter of the cats exploring each box. But, as we are heading into the holiday season when many of even my eat-out-every-night-friends consider home-cooking, I wanted to highlight again this opportunity to get some wonderful produce in SF and now the East Bay.

In their words, the box program is:
"What: Guerrilla vegetable deliveries: Not a CSA, we have one of those. More like a taco truck-meets-the farmers market. No prepayment, no credit cards. You give me your cell phone number as collateral that you'll show up, I give you mine so you can find me/contact me that night. We don't abuse each others cell numbers.
Why: Mariquita Customers at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market missed us when we chose to stop attending spring of 2007. Some of our customers begged for a way to still receive our erbette chard, boxes of San Marzanos, sweet peppers, basil, red carrots etc. We still grow it all and we're delighted to find a way bring it to SF, even if you *don't* own a restaurant!"

Here is a look at this week's box:

The box arrives at home.Oolong is eager to investigate.

Portuguese Cabbage: Any suggestions?

Egyptian Beets soon to be roasted. 
Red Norland Potatoes: probably to be roasted. 
Green bell peppers: suggestions again welcome.

Cayenne Peppers (Spicy): I'll dry these.

Butternut Squash: to be roasted.

Dry-Farmed Early Girl Tomatoes: Perhaps for a lat tomato mozzarella salad?
The pdf led me to expect Broccoli di Cicco, but clearly: purple cauliflower, soon to be roasted.

Gala Apple: Apple crisp time. 

Sunday, November 4, 2012


I have a few wine posts I need to write. But, having spent 10 days not drinking on antibiotics, I give you instead a look at our Halloween costumes this year. K was, of course, a jedi. And me? Well, in "honor" of my recent cat bite trauma, I was a cat-pire. 

Wine to come soon! But first, time to decide on an election night chili recipe. Any suggestions?

The cat-pire herself, in her new favorite spot: the catnip pot.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Tea at Craftsman & Wolves SF

I had plans to make an effort at taking better than usual pictures at tea at Craftsman & Wolves. But, I hurt my hands. So, pictures mainly by K and very few words from me as typing still hurts. 
That said, go!

The menu

Sweets on top, savories on the bottom
The sweets: financier, tile and paté de fruit

Scones and crumpets with meyer lemon curd and clotted cream

The savories

Laver, lobster mushroom, radish and smoked butter on rye

Salt cod rillettes with parsley

Salt cod rillettes with parsley on the brioche

Hot chocolate with violet marshmallows for K