Another Sample bread Recipe

So back on May 5th. I tried my hand at some new  breads – and here I am at it again  – the first one used the same ingredients; cherries, white & chocolate chips & almonds but different ratios and types of flour and was baked in the Dutch Oven instead of braided and has both an overnight proof and a second 2 hour one before baking. Note: this is a much older recipe and didnt account for post 1990 stoves so I could have taken it out sooner.

Then for our monthly bookclub – I redid the one from May 5th (Chocolate Chip Cherry Bread)  and also tried a whole wheat bread with cranberries and walnuts. Both to some success. The whole wheat was dense -but perfect with cheese or a soup. The other was screaming for sweet butter or to be put in bread pudding or fresh toast !

But what I realized is that the process of baking isn’t easy for me – unlike cooking. I need to pay attention different and learn to not only follow the directions -but feel as it comes along. I also found that the process allows my mind to process more complex projects in my head from a different angle so when I sit back down to work, I have a different perspective to see.

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 didn’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. 

Bowling for burgers

Dinner last night at Mission Bowling club; over all not so bad for Friday night eats. While a little loud inside, the staff are attentive (making a reservation helps), the front open air space has a nice after work, local neighborhood vibe, almost boardering on “too hip” but not quite. 

The burgers rocked, thick, hot with carmelized onions and cheese on a toasted bun. The meat quality itself was pretty good- not over worked, with that outer “crunch” bite into a perfect medium center. I did notice that eaten without the bun,  you get a salt blast from the meat which was balanced nice.

 The place offers a bunch of starters imcluding “break your teeth hard” fried seasoned garbonzo beans and vegatable “fritto misto”, which was flavorful but the portion was really small for the price. The classic wedge salad was a win on price, taste and size. 

Mission Bowling Club

3176 17th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

Mother’s Day Alternative Tea

Since we didn’t travel to see your own moms, and we weren’t really up for doing a full out dinner we decided to host an alternative Mother’s Day tea today.

We asked everybody to bring something; Just choose either savory or sweet.  We then mixed it up some with a different friends and small crowd to encourage different networking and socializing.

Overall a big success.

At first I dug out the mixed matched and “tag sale find” collection of tea cups and saucers and plates..

And the  always handy multi tiered dessert plate stands

Getting the layout on the tables is always important.


And then the menu:

Traditional tea sandwhiches with hearts!

Pinwheels with two kinds of cheese and ham, as well as pimento cheese sandwhiches

Gluten free carrot cake muffins, jicama mango salad and picked shrimp


Stuffed peppers and devilishly good peanut butter chocolate and marshmallow cookie.

A Little Home Version “British Bake Off” Night with a Cherry Chocolate bread

A good thing I learned metric; after we watched the Great British Bake Off Masterclass episode (season 1, part 4)  the other night, they got me at the “Cherry Chocolate bread“. As it merges two of my two favorites flavors, I looked up the Paul Hollywood recipe to see if I could recreate it. After 2 proofs, one braid and a bake.. it’s was done! Now all we have to do is taste.

After 2 hours; the cooling had commenced –

Yea. Like we were really going to wait till breakfast. Put the kettle on and get the good butter.  Im already thinking how good this will toast or end up as french toast or bread pudding!

So in the end; how did it compare?

The picture of his:   and mine: .

I think my crust was darker – but I also don’t have it well lit. In the end – no complaints.  For the full recipe visit:

But in the mean time; we can nibbled on some “Chestnut & Golden Raisin Biscotti” (I was out of dried cranberries).



The Italian Easter Ham Pie aka Pizzagaina has now risen

One of the things I have been trying to do is run through some of my Mom’s old recipes in her club’s cookbooks that I haven’t ever made before. This year on request from the house; I was asked to attempt the Ham Pie in case my mom’s didn’t come. The traditional Easter ham pie is something of a must have in our house growing up and was left to me to chop for many years. It goes by several names aka “Pizza gaina” (or pizza ghan, puzza rustica, pizza china) and seems that the variations on the name is as abundant as the variations on the dough type; from crisp, flaky, savory pie to doughy pizza style. and yes I am sharing: for the full recipe see here

The Shopping

The shopping for this dish always proves to be expensive, but well worth it. Luckily many of the same meats and cheeses can be purchased at some of your better grocery stores if you don’t have a traditional Italian market. But plan ahead  – and don’t skimp on the eggs. Its often cheaper to buy the flat of eggs than a dozen or 18 count.

I opted to do most of my shopping at a small italian place in the Mission district of San Francisco, as it is closer to me than trekking to North Beach.  Lucca Ravioli Co has been around for almost century – and still holds a lot of that old world charm – just with a lot more younger faces. Lucca’s is a classic. Small and cramped with inventory that some people may never have seen in its “non ready to eat” form – it is  home to a wide assortment of imports and local artisan version of italian classics. (Hint: the Panettone just came in!)

Lucca Ravioli Co.  

1100 Valencia St. (Corner 22nd St.) call (415) 647-5581

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Step 3 – And now the make; 

Once the dough is chilled – it is really mostly about putting it all together in order and baking. I thing of it as making a “quiche on steroids”.

  • Cut Meats & Cheese  ✅
  • Prepare your dry ingredients  ✅
  • Make dough and chill dough  ✅
  • Crack and whisk the eggs  ✅
  • Add meat & cheese to layed out dough ✅
  • Cover with egg mixture ✅
  • Do some fancy stuff on top ✅
  • A little sprinkle of grated cheese ✅
  • Baked till solid and toothpick comes out clean ✅
  • Let sit in the pans till cool, then remove and finish cooling on a rack

Hint: Give it a little foil “condom” in case the springform pan leaks

And the bake

Depending on the stove you use; they will back for anywhere for 52 – 90 min. Some recipes use a start high, reduce heat to 325 degree method, while others use a standard 350 degrees temp.

When they are fully cooled – you can wrap them in plastic wrap and  then in foil to freeze (they do that great), eat or leave in refrigerator and serve cold or room temp the next day. Mostly personal choice.

As luck would have it – my larger one was underbred and had a wet center – but you can slice them and toss them on a cookie sheet to back further – they won’t be as impressive but will taste the same.

Another fun fact- as a test I also made one in a loaf pan and it came out great. So don’t be afraid to play with the shapes of the pans.

Post Easter update: 

The full recipe for that amount meat will probably make 8 to 9 pies using a standard 8″ or 9″ cake pan. This will vary based on amount of eggs and the thickness of crust. 

Below are a few other recipes I found 

Clara Corrado’s Ham Pie (this is the one closet to my Mom’s version of the dough )

Pizza Gain Aka Pizzagaina, Pizza Rustica, Italian Easter Ham Pie

Easter Pie – A Family Feast

Another Easter Classic: Pizza Gaina

For the full recipe see here

Swedish Book Club Day

Since several asked about the Swedish themed recipes last week to go along with our Bookclub title of the month, A Man Called Ove

I’m sharing them here.


Midsummer Swedish Strawberry Compote – Jordgubbskrm Recipe – via

I didn’t make any changes to this recipe initially, but I did add fresh lemon and lime zest after I took it off the stove and while it cooled.

Note: Don’t second guess it and overcook it. It really does only take until the soft boil. 

Swedish Saffron Cake – curtesy of La Cigale

I made this as is but used the wrong pan. But the flavor rocked and Was perfect to be topped with the strawberry compote.

Note: this recipe is easy enough that it’s perfect for low tech cooking for those without a mixer.

Holiday Saffron Cake Recipe |

This was the “backup recipe” and was equally as good. More dense, this was the one that begged for a cup of coffee or tea to go with.