Another creative cooking week amidst the craziness of hearings & shootings

Started off the weekend by whipping up some herbed cheesy drop biscuits. 
After a killer meal the night before at Spiazzo (check out my review here) before seeing Wonder Woman


 

Then on Tuesday night, I had an urge for lemon-candied ginger biscotti. So adapted the recipe I usually use and added some candied lemon peel and used 2 large eggs instead of XL (For that recipe visit my post here) . Luckily I usually have all the ingredients handy. First bake done.


Now packed for sharing at meeting I had at the “cube” on wed.


So by Thursday, I was at the “what to make when you just can’t face Safeway or Tower?” stage. Which means it was forage time. The outcome ended up as leftover chicken, sweet potato & veggie hash aka the “clean out the refrigerator for garbage day tomarrow ” hash.


Who knows what the rest of the week will bring. But since it seems,  according to how that silly, entitled, little man modeled his answers on Tuesday,  that it’s totally “OK for federal employees to forget, not take notes,  and misremember “, who knows what I’ll be remembering by next week…but as its June it’s time to remember we won’t be silenced.


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Not much sun that weekend- but plenty of lemon’s can fix that

Last week with some help from our pals next door, I had a bunch of lemon’s to experiment with. So tied out a few recipes for lemon cake. It was also a chance to ty out my new silicon bundt pan. The big guess was using a honey-pear compound butter I had left over from earlier in the week, instead of simple plain butter. Over all the flavor was a win – I think thats the difference of using these lemons is that they are mild and sweet – so need to remember to mix with more thicker skin tart varieties. I remember having the same experience with them making preserved lemons. So while the taste was good the pan itself is so-so. I got good color but the center cone doesn’t carry enough heat to make the inner ring cook through. I will try it again next week with the Blueberry cake I make on a regular basis and see if the same thing happens. I also need to check the capacity – as I think it is actually not a 10-cup pan.

Another “Salon” dinner saturday night with the perfect “Cowboy” Lasagna. 

This was a dinner shot during the last visit

A gathering of the tribe last night for a “salon” dinner. A night focused on food, talk and stories. For this month, my old friend Josh and his husband Brent were in town, taking advantage of “retiree” time and visiting the Bay Area. Now Josh and I have been friends, “sisters”, co-facilitators, both ran focus groups and volunteers for local programs for many years and all around were “those two are trouble together” for over 24 years.

Instead of a dinner out like in the past (the last visit we took them to Old Skool for a great meal),  I suggested we eat here and invite some other friends we’ve known for years and just kick back old school style.

For the menu I wanted easy, solid and fun. Years ago Josh and I manned a mens social group called the Social Exchange Network as a way to gather men to get out of the city to camp, eat, remember, heal. This was during a time of great pain and change for us, when so many of our friends were dying or sick with AIDS. So the socials and SEN were an opportunity to “stop the madness” for a few days. We did everything from camping trips to Disney World to house parties.

Often for the weekend SEN events, I tended to do all the cooking (except for the junk food table which often held every sweet treat, salty, sugary snack that we ould pre-buy that would sit on a table for the whole weekend for those late-night munchies) while Josh would serve as the front man-cruise director for the social stuff. On those trips when an oven was available – our first night menu was frozen lasagna dinners with a green salad and garlic bread. As it was easiest meal to get prepared on the day of travel as people rolled in.

With this in mind, I thought it would be fun to recreate a home version, but that wasn’t the old school all day sauce version that I normally would make , which I know he loves. So Trisha Yearwood’s  “Cowboy Lasagna” recipe came to mind.  I originally tried the recipe back in a few months ago  (that post is here) after seeing it on her cooking show to a great success. I recall saying that the mean-sauce was like “crack”, “one spoonful and you couldn’t stop tasting it”. To start the night I re-used another favorite starter; my adapted version of  Roasted Carrot Hummus that I have mentioned back in my February post

When all was said and done –  it was a win for sure.  Two of our other friends Russel (Russell has know Josh almost as long) and David,  brought a fresh baked apple pie (crust and all) incredibly infused with rosemary. Which paired perfectly to the lasagna meal.

What to make for dinner with nothing?

Ok so last week we both too beat to decide on what to eat and go out.. Which meant it was time for our own version of #Chopped@Home and for me to come up with something to eat.

I had remembered a @LidiaBastianich (one of my fav italian professional food folks) and how she had married some of the same things and always says that its not about the recipe as much as what you have.  So after a fast forage in my cabinets and refrigerator – I ended up with:

Baked Ham that I had from a few weeks back when I tried my first full baked ham myself which I had luckily frozen the leftover meat and bones seperately, fresh snap peas, cherry tomatoes, mine orange peppers, and a box of pasta, olive oil, butter and lemons.

So well – when all was said and done – I got a pretty easy and nice hearty meal out of it.

 

Date night to kick off a 3-day weekend

On Friday as a treat, Paul took me to a resturant neither of us had been too – but often walked by;  L’Ardoise Bistro .
This would be one of those “hidden gems” that get so easily overlooked. With so many decadent options I went old school with Coq au Vin‬ while Paul Burke splurged on the Hanger steak. Started off with little Charcuterie Plate with housemade Patés and an incredible carrot soup special was rich with “American butter” and hot. In fact, the entrees were solid sized and rare it seems of late in restaurants – actually HOT and just just warmed under a heat lamp.

From start to finish, an outstanding diner, well prepared and lick your plate good. Reasonably priced and great portions topped only by the welcoming staff. I would go once a week if my waistline would agreed.  A new favorite on my list of “go to’s”.

Pardon the fuzzy shots – but the atmosphere is so nice and we had such a lovely time – that I refused to fuss with my camera. 

They have a great menu online (http://www.ardoisesf.com) for those that like to review them

L’ardoise Bistro
51 Noe St
San Francisco, CA 94114
b/t 15th St & Henry St. Duboce Triangle

Phone number(415) 437-2600.  Business website: ardoisesf.com or on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LArdoiseBistro

 

You know it’s good when I start with the empty plates!

Read my review of L’ardoise Bistro on Yelp

 

 

Sessions at the Presidio

So last week we went to the Palace of Fine Arts to see Bernadette Peters in concert. We wanted to go to dinner beforehand somewhere close and when looking for places that had a 6 o’clock reservations we came across sessions. 
I don’t have any expectations and what we would find; reviews were mixed from 3 to 5 stars depending on where you looked. 

I loved the inside of the restaurant, nice balance of light and airy with substance. They were very gracious, we were seated pretty quickly. They were really helpful when we explained we were going to the theater and our server felt we had plenty of time. But that’s when service got a little wonky. 

We ordered pretty quickly, going with the sliced meat appetizer and then the hanger steak entrée, the chicken entrée and a burger. I think the kitchen may have been having a bit of a off night; our waiter did mention they were short one staff but it sort of feel like maybe the kitchen was a little short. He came out to tell us that there could be a chance for appetizer would be out after our entrées because of timing in the kitchen and with that be a problem for us. Now I appreciated him asking because in some cases we wouldn’t care but it did feel kind of odd.

Now we did notice the food coming out looks wonderful. We got our appetizer first, and just finished when our entrées were served. I was sort of underwhelmed with the burger; it was a seared on both sides but nearly raw inside (and had been ordered medium). The hanger steak looked very and tasted good as did the chicken although I have to say that the chicken portion was underwhelming for the price of the entrée. I’m sort of wondering if some of our food may have been held up so that we could eat ourbappetizers first as both the other entrees weren’t particularly hot, even though the place themselves were. 

Luckily they redeemed themselves at the end of the night with a very very good banana nut cake with salted butterscotch ice cream. I could’ve eaten that as my dinner and been happy. They did remove the cost of the burger from our tab then asked about my not eating it. 

So while I wouldn’t rule out going to Sessions again, I probably wouldn’t order the burger. I noticed they do have a squid ink seafood pasta dish that reads good on the menu, that is likely what I want to try next.