Friday, November 20, 2009

Mushroom Calzones- Another Lesson

That's really what these were! Big on flavor and gone in about 10.23 minutes.
But too much moisture from the mushrooms despite a good long saute.
From this recipe, we can learn three things:

1. The smallest imbalance can cause a great dish to be less than spectacular
2. The smallest imbalance will not ruin the flavors in a delicious combination of ingredients
3. One should not give up if a first try isn't as grand as one expects!

My broccoli calzone recipe is seriously addicting. Building on its success, I decided to create a similar stuffed pocket of goodness with mushrooms, another fab veg. I knew the mushrooms would need a good saute to develop flavor and render their large quantity of moisture.
1 pint crimini mushrooms, chopped coarsely
2 large cloves garlic, chopped
1-2 Tbs fresh thyme, chopped
Sauteed in a large pan sprayed with olive oil spray for 12 minutes.

Yes, we drink while we make our pizza.

I've gotten smart and line my baking sheets with foil whenever possible, seriously cutting down on clean-up. Or maybe I'm not so smart since I've been scrubbing my pans after each use for years. . .

Meanwhile I made a batch of whole wheat pizza dough- it was a nice change from the semolina one we're currently favoring.

Rolly rolly- I find a French rolling pin so ideal for pizza dough rolling, I'm not so great at doing it by hand and getting even, thin results.

I paid lots of money for a photographer to come in and document this. . .

. . . Ok, I asked Ray to grab my camera and take a few shots
Always with my kitchen helper looking on.
She doesn't miss anything food related.

After rolling, we stuff with as much mushroom mixture and cheese as we dare

Close carefully so the whole thing doesn't split, and seal the edges.
Don't forget two or three slits in the top- you don't want it to explode!
No dinner is no good.
Bake at 500 degrees Fahrenheit for about 15 minutes and they look like this on the outside. . .

And this on the inside-

My end result was still a bit soggy. Soo delicious with the woodsy flavor of the mushrooms and thyme and that fantabulous TJ's Quattro Formaggio cheese (aka 'the pizza cheese' in my house), but the middle was a bit on the wet side so the dough wasn't as crisp as I like it.

The edges were still crisp though, which leads me to conclude that sauteing the mushrooms for much longer is needed to rid them of the moisture they were still carrying. Am I missing another solution? If you have any feedback that might help let me know! If you tell me something brilliant I may have to try them again sooner rather than later.

We do make a lot of pizza around here. . . maybe I need to rename this blog 'The Pizza Girl'. . .


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Beautiful Blogger

I met Shannon at the Foodbuzz Blogger Festival. She's from Boston and writes Tri to Cook. I had a great time hanging out with her at Friday's Street Food Fare; I think she's a kindred spirit and I wish we lived on the same Coast!

Last week she gifted me with the Beautiful Blogger Award along with a few other bloggers- so nice! It's nothing official- we aren't being recognized by an organization- but it's such a sweet way for food bloggers to reach out to each other and say 'hey, I like you.'
The feeling is mutual.

Part of the deal is to share 7 random things about yourself- not so easy to come up with anything worth sharing when you think about it. Here we go, Sarah's random facts:

1. I think my feet are shrinking!!- I used to wear 6 1/2 all the time but these days I'm having to go back for 6 or even 5 1/2

2. I ate meat until two years ago- and I expect I will be a meat eater again someday, just doesn't suit me now

3. I don't like sets, I'm a mix and match girl in the kitchen. We have a collection of different dishes and bowls and I love it that way.

4. My first significant food memory is making peanut butter balls with Mom in our kitchen in Cary, North Carolina. I was probably four or five.

5. I'm not so good with makeup. I've been taught a few times (especially right before my wedding since I wanted to do my own) but I still only do eyeshadow, mascara, lipstick, and blush for the dressiest occasions.

6. I'm happiest when eating a nice meal with my favorite person (Ray).

7. I HATE being hot and sweaty. You can layer on but there's only so much you can take off. . .

I bequeath to Kyle, Erica, Tina, and Joy.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Farmers Market Treats

I am reminded of how lucky we are in California when it comes to access to fresh produce.
There are 5 or 6 year-round farmers markets within 20 minutes of my house- I have my pick depending on the day of the week and where I am. It's what I'm used to!
Californians sometimes forget that we live in a place that has so much access to these kind of seasonal abundance. It's (one of) the reasons why I find outspoken critics of non-local or organic pretty irritating- we're a little sheltered and spoiled over here!!
Easily said when you have this at your fingertips.

So I have 5 or 6 markets nearby; despite that, my favorite is still the Saturday morning market at the Ferry Building in San Francisco. It's more of a production and time committment (15 minute drive to the Millbrae BART station, 30 minutes on the train, and I'm limited to what I can muscle home), but it's a fun weekend activity as opposed to just grocery shopping.
My last visit was a year ago at least until last weekend at the Foodbuzz Blogger Festival.
I snuck back this morning for a little more browsing on my own.
I'm an introvert by nature, so a little slice of heaven is the solitary walk from Embarcadero BART to the docks before wandering the stalls by myself. I spend my time daydreaming, people-watching, considering what to eat for breakfast, and what to bring home.

Market Bar- worth a stop next time the weather is good, and I can get Ray to come with me. . . How nice does that look?


I'd never seen brussel sprouts on their stalks before- can you imagine what they look like in the ground? How do they grow actually, I have no clue! I should have asked- anybody know??
The interior of the Ferry Building is a bit more for people watching than grocery shopping.
This interesting gentleman was enjoying a glass of white wine at the Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant.
At 9:00 AM.
Gotta love it.
After wandering inside and out to make sure I picked the best thing, I settled on Frog Hollow Farm indoors.

Frog Hollow Farm is located nearby in Brentwood, and this is a little spot to purchase fruit and a plethora of mouth-watering pastries.
In addition, you can sign up for their CSA program and receive boxes of fresh fruits on a monthly, quarterly, or annual basis. There are pick-up locations close to me in Belmont and Burlingame. Food for thought :-)

Line = worth the wait!

My choice was this scuffin creation.

Much more like a scone than a muffin, the advertised flax seed and apricot jam grabbed me and didn't let me go until I could place my order.

My little guy- heavy on the flax seed, in a good way

And oh so excited (!!) when I split the scuffin to reveal a generous glob of apricot jam in the center. It was like I had spread a plain scone with a thick layer of homemade jam. (!!)
Oh yes, I picked good.

I don't mind the gray weather here most of the time (though I'm not a city resident so perhaps I should shut up), but on a day like this it is just so beautiful.


Friday, November 13, 2009

Black Box Wine

This awesome treat arrived on my doorstep from the nice people at Black Box Wines.
Thank you!
The wine is a nice cabernet sauvignon and we're loving the packaging. The rectangular box has a spout at the bottom and holds a quantity equal to four bottles- and it will be fresh for a month! We've been sipping little tastes nightly, and it graced our table at a party recently.


Monday, November 9, 2009

Roasted Butternut Squash Salad

I'd like to share a winter recipe that I'm obsessed with right now.
This butternut squash salad is inspired by something I found in the prepared foods case at Whole Foods. I came for a bit of poached salmon, and this salad was sitting right next to it. I couldn't believe how delicious it was; after two or three repeat visits, I decided to make my own at home. I noted the ingredients and came up with what you see here.
I am happy to report that my version was better than the original- the chunks of butternut squash sit well with the cranberries, and the fresh thyme is very important. I'd consider using even more in the future, but the recipe shows what I used today.

I've been enjoying this salad as an added component to a salad with romaine lettuce, tomatoes, poached salmon, walnut oil and balsamic vinegar. Sounds bizarre I know, but it works well. On one occasion, I paired it with some roasted broccoli, on another with roasted chickpeas. I'm thinking of substituting pumpkin for the butternut squash next time. So many more possibilities in the future. . .
Roasted Butternut Squash Salad

1 butternut squash
1/2 red onion
1 Tbs fresh thyme, chopped fine
2 Tbs olive oil
1/2 cup dried cranberries
dash of red wine vinegar
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Place the dried cranberries in a bowl and pour hot water over the top. Let sit and rehydrate while preparing the other ingredients.
Cut the butternut squash in half lengthwise and remove the seeds and stringy inside with a spoon. Cut each half into three, and remove skin by slicing down the edge. Cut each piece into cubes. Take the 1/2 red onion and cut it into 3 sections, then each of those sections into cubes. Place in a large bowl with the squash and add the olive oil, salt, and fresh thyme. Roast for 35 minutes, tossing once in the middle.

Remove the vegetables from the oven and add the drained cranberries. Sprinkle with the vinegar, tossing with a spatula to mix everything together. Transfer to a serving dish, and serve hot, at room temperature, or cold.


Sunday, November 8, 2009

Morning After

Gorgeous day
For personal reasons I only made it to the first night and morning of the Foodbuzz Blogger Festival, but I'm so grateful for every moment of it. I hope to be able to participate more next year, but this time I soaked up as much as I could in the shortened time.

I love my city, but too often I make the trek downtown and the weather is dismal.
I mean look- this is what it looked like coming in Friday afternoon.
Not a good sign right?

The next morning, clear skies and sun- soo lucky!
I snuck upstairs to the 8th floor terrace to get a look at the view along the Embarcadero. It was so pretty I forgot to think about my fear of heights.

And that precious moon! Can you see it?


After the roof terrace, my first stop was Bluebottle for some coffee.
Plain coffee is individually dripped here.
It was pretty impressive to watch each cup slowly fill with fresh coffee.

Right before 9:00, it's relatively peaceful inside the Ferry Building which was a little shocking. This place is usually beyond crowded for me- mental note to come before breakfast as opposed to lunchtime. It didn't last long, by 10:00 the place was getting packed.
While I was enjoying my coffee, this gentleman was sipping wine at the Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant.
At 9AM. Love it.
The Bay Bridge looking towards the East Bay- Hi Mother- and Father-in-Law!
My last two trips to the Ferry Building were dark and rainy.
A sunny day makes all the difference.