Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Living Large

We threw stabs at eating healthy this week for Sunday dinner. Perhaps the Mediterranean diet is the answer to our ever-struggling waistlines. Each of us had a story of over-indulgence to bring to the table and therefore we did at least eschew butter for this meal and attempted to bring on the healthy.

We started planning on Saturday when we attended a wine tasting event at Esquin in Seattle. Nancy and I spend every summer on a quest for the perfect dry Rośe. It's a very fun quest! For our dinner of Lemon-Oregano Grilled Chicken, Sundried tomato and feta orzo and Greek Salad though, Nancy picked up two incredible whites. A Marchetti Verdicchio Classico and a Marchetti Verdicchio Superiore.

Both wines were perfect with the meal and before the meal.

David is slowly getting settled into his newly remodeled home and his personality is really beginning to surface in his art and belongings. He has a great eye for lines and textures. I couldn't help but snap this shot of one of his pieces of blown glass and a new bench that he'd recently acquired.

Chris came armed with his guitar and a special song to commemorate my recent transition from house sitting in paradise back to "real life". Nobody Knows You When You're Down & Out....
He serenaded me with words of woe while Nancy and David finished up the orzo in the kitchen.

I always say our Sunday dinners are a group effort. Dining together is communal and if one person were always in charge the joy would diminish quickly. It's so nice to just be responsible for one component of the gathering... music is a component.

Helena brought this wonderful salad to the table.

Horiyatiki Salad or Greek Village salad makes its way to our dinner table often. It's hard to beat the flavors and textures of cucumber, sweet peppers, kalamata olives, feta & tomatoes. Normally there's red onion in the mix but we have one no-raw-onion diner and who wants to exclude someone special from enjoying a part of the meal? It's a wonderful salad with or without those onions.

I would show you pictures of the chicken laying atop its bed of dreamy orzo and sun-dried tomatoes. But as I've said before.. some foods just don't photograph well.
I'll show you a plate with all of the components of dinner...but don't say I didn't warn you!

Maybe I haven't mentioned how I feel about looking/photograhing food on a blue plate. Blue plates should be reserved for diner specials. There is nothing special about trying to make food look appetizing on a blue plate. That said: David has blue plates. It's his favorite color! So, when our Sunday dinners are held at David's house.. the photos will reflect that fact.
Hey, dinner was great! It just didn't translate into pictures all that well.

And that wine! Did I mention that wine? It was wonderful! Get down to Esquin and pick some up!

Saturday, June 27, 2009


Recently I had a dream job house sitting a beautiful home in what I like to call Paradise. I was there for a month and every day, every hour of every day, was surreal in its perfection.
There wasn't a spot that wasn't peaceful and magical in its ability to induce relaxation. It was a very good month.
The home was designed for entertaining (be still my heart!) and the owners encouraged me to do just that.
I had friends and family over for dinners on the patio mostly. The patio was warm and inviting with a view stretching over 26 acres of wooded perfection. This Golden Chain tree was the star of the show though and everyday I watched with amazement as it grabbed the sun at different angles and displayed its golden beauty.

Leaving, was always an effort. It was like being on vacation for a month. I did make my way out to the solstice parade in Fremont where I encountered these lovely "queens" who seemed to have fashioned their elaborate gowns from newspaper print. They were a royal sight to behold!

Later I hosted a solstice party for a few close friends (making sure to invite those who play musical instruments).
We stayed warm with an outdoor roaring fire against a chilly first evening of the summer.

There was food of course! There was wine and there was plenty of laughter and music too.

There wasn't a fancy menu for this event. We made brats and salads and appetizers. Nothing highbrow or pretentious. It was about celebrating the company of others. I count friendships as my richest commodity. Time in paradise was appreciated and certainly enjoyed but time with friends (anywhere) is really life's treasure.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Fish Tacos

I know I've mentioned them before but they are so good I have to bring them back to the table again. And again. And again. Fish Tacos. The meal that cannot help but to whisper the promise of summer into you ear.
It's fun to use different types of fish. This balmy evening we dined outdoors and grilled Mahi Mahi, Wild Alaskan Salmon and Halibut.
The components here are what create the best end product. We had crema with lime juice and cilantro, fresh pico de gallo, guacamole and shredded cabbage with yet more cilantro. Creating the perfect bite was definitely not a chore.

And what better than a cold cervesa to wash it all down with!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Flavors of Greece

I have this go-to summer salad that combines the flavors found in the classic Horiatiki Salata (Greek village salad) with orzo (rice-shaped pasta). There is something about these flavors and textures that bring summertime home to rest.

The combination of fresh, ripe, vibrant red tomatoes, yellow, orange and red sweet peppers, crispy cucumbers, kalamata olives, feta cheese, sweet red onion, fresh dill and orzo pasta create a mardi gras in your mouth. Dress the salad with either an olive oil, fresh lemon juice dressing or a red-wine vinaigrette. This salad has personality to spare!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Sweet Basil & Tomatoes

A culinary marriage if ever there was one. A perfectly ripe tomato and a sprig of sweet, fragrant basil.
Lately, I've been making food for groups rather than the intimate Sunday dinners. It's graduation season and I'm thankful for the jobs when they come up.
This client asked for some classic bruchetta. Some people just have good taste.

This is truly one of those dishes with so few ingredients that every component better be of the best quality.
I chose some ripe, on-the-vine Campari tomatoes, local fresh basil, garlic and a splash of fruity olive oil. I know I'm always mentioning chevre. I can't hide my love for the stuff. That would be good crumbled on top or a shaved aged Pecorino cheese would add nothing but personality to the dance.
Next weekend is the solstice and summer's arrival will be official. It is difficult not to be perfectly happy right now.

Friday, June 12, 2009


At some point my recent technological problems became absurd comedy. I would hear from a few blog readers, "Hey!? Why aren't you posting on your blog?" Well, first I had camera problems (really) And my words just aren't fancy enough to fly without a few pictures. Then, I got the camera working and the card reader to upload the pictures went kapoot. I got another card reader and just then, my son came for a visit and asked me to bake him a blueberry pie.

It was one of those magical mother-son connection times. He sat at the kitchen counter while I rolled out pie dough. He had brought his external hard drive over to load some things on my computer that he thought I'd like to watch. While I fidgeted with the pie he began to fidget in a something's-not-quite-right sort of way.

Right about the time he started to tell me how he'd just found a virus on his own computer (but not to worry! It was quarantined!) He said, "Wow, now YOUR internet is freezing up too." Then, the words. Oh those horrible words. "oh oh, this looks like the same virus I had on my computer!" I reached over, ignoring all the rules of disable before removal and yanked the cord connecting his hard drive to my laptop. It was too little too late. Just when I'd regained the ability to post pictures, I lost the ability to access the internet.

We still had pie. But it was a sad computer night.
I used to work with computers for a living. I wasn't all that good at it then. I was really kind of glad to walk away from the stress of viruses and glitches. I notice my brain really rebels against being called back up to process technical information. I rebel. I just stared at the computer screen for a day or so hoping that virus would decide there wasn't anything of interest on my silly laptop and take a hike. I slept on it. Two nights I slept on it. Each morning I'd return to the laptop and there would be the monster that had taken up residence in my life.
This morning I found my resolve. I found my guts and my determination and I came out swinging. I'm happy to report that I won!

In celebration I want to post a picture of some beets I recently worked with. They look like a bowl full of jewels. I was so enamored of them I wanted to marry them. I settled for a picture instead. After all this, I roasted them with sherry and when I removed them from the oven I splashed some really nice sherry vinegar on them and when they cooled I topped them with some crumbled chevre. I don't care if you don't like beets. You'd like these beets. I promise! A handful of fresh chopped chives, parsley and Marjoram would be delightful added to the mix after it has cooled as well.