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. 

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.

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: http://www.pbs.org/food/recipes/pauls-chocolate-cherry-loaf/

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