Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Cooking and Dining at Home During the Pandemic

While we are working from home and leaving the house as little as possible, we take the opportunity to make ourselves some great meals.  Our favorite cookbook authors, including Jacques Pepin, Melissa Clark, Ina Garten, Gordon Ramsay, and Mario Batali don't know us, but we sure know them!  We periodically look through their books and online recipes for new ideas and are constantly trying new and interesting-sounding dishes and meals.  There are a few of our old favorites and some new discoveries (many on their way to becoming new favorites).

As the pandemic shutdown begins, it is still Dungeness crab season in the San Francisco Bay area and we pick some fresh crabs and make bisque, accompanied by homemade profiteroles for desert.

 Dungeness crab bisque, profiteroles

A little later, we get more fresh crab and make buttery crab pasta with golden tomatoes and chervil, served with a salad of heirloom tomatoes and buratta.

 Buttery crab pasta

The next week, we have a warm-weather treat, starting with potato chips with blue cheese dip, followed by grilled filet mignon sliders.

 Blue cheese dip, sliders

Almost every week (usually on Monday), we have salmon (either on the grill or, as shown in these cases, oven baked with honey and chervil) and served with rice and butter-steamed vegetables, roasted cauliflower, or (not shown) Yukon Gold new potatoes roasted with fresh herbs and garlic.

Salmon with butter-steamed vegetables, roasted cauliflower

We also try to support our local restaurant take-out-only services every week or two, in this case pizza from East End.


Following that, it's time for shrimp burgers (combining ground up shrimp with panko bread crumbs, mayonnaise, pepper, salt, and cayenne pepper), served with homemade tartar sauce and artichokes.

 Shrimp burgers, artichokes

Next, we make an intriguing dish from a fabulous new cookbook, Melissa Clark's Dinner in French:  mushroom soup, accompanied by a shredded kale salad.

 Mushroom soup with shredded kale salad

For appetizers, we often have anchovies and occasionally get more inspired;  one day we make pizzaettes (tomato/mozzarella, gorgonzola/mushroom/thyme, anchovy).

 Anchovies, pizzaettes

We use more anchovies in another simple, great dish from Dinner in French:  spaghetti with anchovies, tomato, and basil.

 Spaghetti with anchovies, tomato, basil

We try to have fish twice a week (one of them the salmon described above), a second with whatever appeals to us at JP Seafood (halibut, sea bass, scallops, sole, shrimp).  This evening, it's baked halibut with wild mushrooms, accompanied by roasted cauliflower.

 Halibut with wild mushrooms, roasted cauliflower

Once again supporting a local restaurant, we have a take-out meal from Pappo with Liberty Ranch duck legs with polenta and sautéed broccoli, accompanied by macaroni and cheese.

Roasted duck leg, macaroni and cheese

Soon, it's back to Dinner in French for cabbage sauteed with gruyère and jalapenos to accompany garganelli with duck ragu

Cabbage sauteed with gruere and jalapenos, garganelli with duck ragu

Well, that's a few of the meals.  We'll share a few more in the next few blogs (while we wait for the ability to travel again).

Friday, June 26, 2020

Basil/Yogurt/Honey Halibut with Roasted Tomatoes

Basil/yogurt/honey halibut with roasted tomatoes combines some of our favorite tastes:  fresh halibut from JP Seafood, basil from our garden, and tomatoes from Encinal Market.

Basil/yogurt/honey halibut with roasted tomatoes

We quarter eight tomatoes, place the skin-side down on a baking sheet, drizzle them with olive oil, salt, pepper, and thyme (also from our garden), and roast them in a 225°F (110°C) oven for 2-3 hours, until most of the juice has evaporated. 

 Tomatoes, before and after roasting

We next make the basil/yogurt/honey sauce by combining three cups of basil (about 80-100 leaves from our garden, cleaned and dried), olive oil, and salt in a food processor, blending until smooth.  One-quarter cup of Greek yogurt and a teaspoon of honey are then added and the mixture is refrigerated until ready to serve.

 Basil in our garden, picked and cleaned

 Basil/yogurt/honey sauce in process

 Halibut, basil/honey/yogurt sauce and tomatoes

We season two halibut fillets on both sides with salt and pepper and cook them in olive oil and butter in a nonstick pan for 4-5 minutes each side, until golden brown,

 Halibut fillets

The cooked halibut rests for a few minutes, then is served on a bit of the basil/yogurt/honey sauce, with a drizzle on top and the tomatoes on the side.

 Dinner is served

This is a simple and truly tasty way to serve halibut with several tastes complementing and enhancing the fish.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Dining in London

Although we have a short stay in London, we find time for several memorable meals.  We always look forward to a stay at the Renaissance Heathrow Hotel, both for the great views of one of Heathrow's runways and the fish and chips in the bar.  We arrive from Pisa and head right over for out treat.

Fish and chips

The next day, during our stroll through London, we arrive at the Borough Market around lunchtime and, after viewing the fabulous selection of dining options available, we choose fish & chips at Fish!, named the best fish and chips shop in London.  We select a haddock and chips and a cod and chips and sit on a concrete bench along the Thames to dine.


 Fish and chips waiting for diners

 Our meals

On the bank of the Thames

Later that day, for dinner, we head over to an old favorite, the Cork & Bottle wine bar in Leicester Square.  We share baked camembert with confit garlic and olive oil, grilled octopus with pineapple and chili jam, and a bottle of the daily wine special.  Wow!

 Cork and Bottle

 Camembert, octopus

After this delightful meal, it's time to stroll over the the Leicester Square Tube station and catch the Underground back to Heathrow to spend the night and rise early for our return flight to San Francisco.

Friday, June 19, 2020

A Quick Stop in London

We stay overnight at Heathrow and take the Underground ("Tube") into London for a day of exploration.  Starting in the financial district, we exit the Tube near Lloyd's of London (the world-famous insurance and reinsurance market) and 30 St Mary Axe ("The Gherkin").

 Lloyd's of London and The Gherkin

From there, it's a short stroll to Leadenhall Market, dating from the 14th century, one of the oldest markets in London, now packed with shops, restaurants and cafes.

 Leadenhall Market

Gracechurch Street leads from Leadenhall Market to the London Bridge, across which we find Borough Market, the oldest and largest food market in London, dating from the 12th century.  We wander and enjoy the great sight and smells.

Crossing the Thames

 Borough Market

From Borough Market, we stroll along the banks of the Thames toward the Palace of Westminster (meeting place of the two houses of Parliament, the House of Commons and the House of Lords), noting familiar sights and seeing what has changed since we were last here.

 Along the Thames

Crossing the Thames on the Westminster Bridge (located, oddly enough, at the Palace of Westminster), we head towards Buckingham Palace, cutting through St. James Park.

 Cutting through St. James Park

To Buckingham Palace

After the palace, we have one more stop in this short visit:  a quick trip to Knightsbridge to visit the Harrods Department Store Christmas Shop to check out the ornaments.

 Harrods Christmas Shop

It's been a quick, but fun, trip to London, but now its time to head home on tomorrow's morning flight to San Francisco.