Friday, August 28, 2020

Recent Cooking and Dining at Home During the Pandemic

We try to prepare seafood twice a week, generally one day of salmon and one day of whatever looks interesting at JP Seafood (sea bass, halibut, swordfish, sole, scallops, shrimp, ahi tuna).  This time, we prepare salmon on the grill and roast small Yukon gold potatoes and assorted rainbow carrots and herbs to accompany the fish.  But first, we start with fresh burata from Foodshed Take Away in Napa, with sliced prosciutto and bread sticks.

Appetizer, roasting the carrots and potatoes

The plate

The next day, we barbecue a port tenderloin (with a sauce made of roasted red pepper, pecorino romano cheese, pumpkin seeds, red wine vinegar, paprika, and cayenne pepper), accompanied by roasted cauliflower with sliced garlic, and a small bean salad.

Pork tenderloin

Returning East End, a favorite local restaurant, for take out, we dine on garlic knots, pizza with corn, roasted tomatoes, jalapenos, and house-blend cheese, and a summer risotto (carnaroli rice with corn, fava beans, cherry tomatoes, crème fraîche, feta, and fresh herbs), similar to what we would order if were able to dine inside.

Pizza and risotto

Returning to JP Seafood, we make shrimp burgers with homemade tartar sauce, accompanied by a blueberry arugula salad (with goat cheese and almonds).  The shrimp is pulsed in a food processor along with mayonnaise, pepper, salt, and cayenne pepper, then formed into patties, breaded with panko bread crumbs, and cooked in vegetable oil until golden brown.

Blueberry salad, shrimp burgers ready to cook

Shrimp burgers

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Recent Cooking and Dining at Home During the Pandemic

Well, here we are, still working from home, with a few restaurants open for take-away dining or [very-few] for outside dining on the sidewalk, patio, or street.  But, since we truly enjoy cooking, we just keep on keeping on (to quote from Curtis Mayfield, Bob Dylan, and Martin Luther King, Jr.).

We enjoy various pasta dishes and make several with penne, first a penne with lemon, basil, and Parmesan, later a penne with bolognese sauce, each accompanied by a small salad.

Penne with lemon, bolognese

To make good use of our grill, we make filet mignon sliders accompanied by grilled corn and avacado salad with grilled scallions, jalapeno peppers, feta cheese, and lemon zest.  To start, we make gougères, cheese puffs with sage and gruyère.


Preparing the salad

Salad mixed together, dinner is served

And, for desert, homemade Aperol spritz sorbet (Aperol, prosecco, sparkling water, orange juice, lemon juice, sugar, and corn syrup, combined in an electric ice cream maker).

Spritz sorbet

Supporting our local restaurants, we have a take-away dinner from Cholita Linda:  baja fish tacos, carnitas (slow-braised pork) tacos, and pescada frito (local snapper with salsa criola (marinated red onions), rice, salad, and sweet plantains.

Tacos galore and pescada

For a real treat, Laura makes lasagne ala bolognese, which always takes two days as David spends most of the first day making bolognese sauce with ground pork, ground beef, ground veal, red wine, San Marzano tomatoes, and, at the end, milk.  The next day, Laura makes the besciamella sauce with flour, butter, and milk and assembles the lasagna (with fresh noodles from the Pasta Shop at Market Hall Foods in Berkeley).

The sauces: bolognese and besciamella

Assembled, then baked

We start with some fresh anchovies from JP Seafood and accompany the dinner with a bottle of St. Emilion Bordeaux from Bordeaux Classique.

Accompanying our lasagna

We first serve the lasagna with a simple tomato and mozzarella salad.  A few days later, we have leftover lasagna accompanied by a Greek salad of cucumber, bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, red onion, calmata olives, and feta cheese (with a garlic, oregano, Dijon mustard, red wine vinegar dressing).

Served with salads

And, later on, we serve the remaining bolognese sauce that didn't go into the lasagna with pasta, this time mezzi rigatoni.

Great pasta

Friday, August 21, 2020

Orange Braised Duck with Roasted Duck Fat Potatoes

For a real treat, we purchase a whole duck and braise it in orange and white wine (and a few other ingredients) to realize a duck that is supple and moist and infused with citrus and herbal flavors.  To accompany the duck, we roast potatoes in duck fat, giving them a crispy outside and a smooth, creamy inside.

Roast Duck with duck fat fries

To prepare the duck, we remove the back bone with a pair of kitchen shears, cutting along both sides of the backbone and saving it for stock.  We then cut through the breast bone with our [sharp] chef's knife, separating the duck in half down the center.  The duck is then seasoned with salt and pepper on both sides, placed on a cooking sheet, and refrigerated overnight.

Refrigerate overnight

The next day, we remove the duck from the refrigerator and slather the skin side with orange marmalade.  A layer of sliced celery, carrots, and onions fill a roasting pan, along with thyme parsley, cilantro, and a bay leaf.  On top of this, we squeeze an orange and add a cup of dry white wine, adding the orange peel to the pan.  The duck is placed, skin side up, on the bed of vegetables, fruit, and herbs and we cover the pan with foil and place it in the oven at 350°F (177°C) for 2.5 to 3 hours, until the meat pulls easily from the bone.

Prepare duck with vegetables, herbs, orange

While the duck cooks, we prepare the potatoes, first boiling small Yukon gold potatoes in for about 10 minutes, then letting them cool

Parboil potatoes

We then cut the potatoes in half, toss them in a mixture of flour and cornmeal, and place them, cut side down, in a pan of duck fat that has been preheated to 400°F (205°C).  The potatoes are roasted at the same temperature for 1/2 hour, then turned over and roasted for 20-30 minutes more until crisp and browned on both sides.  Using a slotted spoon, we transfer the potatoes to a paper-towel lined plate to drain and then serve seasoned with salt.

Potatoes ready to roast, in the oven (in duck fat)

Potatoes are ready and served!

Meanwhile, once the duck is done, we remove it from the platter to a cutting board, carve into pieces, and transfer to our plates.

Duck is done, on the cutting board

Duck is plated

Dinner is served

And, to accompany the orange braised duck with roasted duck fat potatoes, we open a bottle of a favorite Saint Emilion Bordeaux from Bordeaux Classique.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Memories of Tahiti and French Polynesia

We travel around the islands of French Polynesia on a small cruise ship, the Wind Spirit, and capture pictures of our ship moored alongside various of the islands, as we play in the water and explore the land, towns, and beaches ashore.

Views of the Wind Spirit

We take advantage of the Wind Spirit's water sports platform at the rear of the ship to swim, kayak, paddle board, and be towed around on the "Airhead" by a powerboat, racing across the sea and jumping across the wake.

 Airhead tow

Incredible lush scenery greets us everywhere.
Lush landscapes

An,d the water is clear, blue, green, warm, inviting, and delighting.



Fabulous water

Leading into the sea, incredible beaches are made for walking, strolling, sitting, and wandering into the water.



And, in the water, thousands of little motu (islands).


From the ship, we watch passing clouds and the occasional rainbow.


And, at the end of the day, some of the most incredible sunsets we have ever seen! 


Goodbye Tahati, until we meet again (hopefully soon)!