Archive for the 'Holidays' CategoryPage 3 of 4

Eating Santa Fe and Exploring the Land of Enchantment…

… or what I did on my summer vacation. A few weeks ago I went to New Mexico for 5 days w/ my best friends, Bob and Kristin. We stayed in Santa Fe and took day trips to explore the beautiful places that surround that enchanting city. We also found some great places to eat and drink. I took many, many pictures but I won’t bore you w/ all of them… just some of my favorites!

Day 1: Drove up from Albuquerque, checked into the hotel and got settled. Walked along Canyon Road to look at the galleries and visit the leather shop, Desert Son, to have a belt made for a silver belt buckle I bought 4 years ago. We then had dinner at Bert’s La Taqueria which was recommended to us by the owner of  Desert Son. The food there was not your typical Mexican fare and the chef/owner, Fernando Olea, took time away from the kitchen to explain the cuisine he was preparing that evening. We sampled pork w/ a  traditional red mole from the Puebla region of Mexico; beef tongue w/ a spinach based green mole from the Quintana Roo region; and some unique desserts that we promised not to share the main ingredients so other customers can guess as we did. The food was so good we went back the next day for lunch!

Bert’s sign, front door and patio

Beef tongue w/ green mole; pork w/ red mole; desserts

Day 2: Started the day w/ a cup of coffee from Holy Spirit Espresso, which uses delicious beans from Caffe D’arte (their northern Italian roast called Firenze), then went to Desert Son to pick up my belt. In the afternoon we drove to Chimayo and Taos. We visited the Santuario de Chimayo where miracles have occurred, then headed up to Taos to see the famous multi-level pueblo there. Unfortunately the pueblo was closed for the day so I don’t have any pics. Got back to the hotel late in the day, starving, looked at the menus at a few restuarants, then settled on a great Japanese place that had a fantastic price for bento box dinners. Kohnami Japanese Restaurant – another great find! Didn’t take any pics but click the link for their menu.

Outside of Holy Spirit Espresso; window shopping; picturesque window

Santuario de Chimayo

Day 3: In the morning we drove up to San Ildefonso Pueblo to look around and check out the famous black pottery made there. Had lunch in at La Casa Sena which has a beautiful courtyard and a great wine shop next door. Spent the rest of the afternoon walking around Santa Fe. then stopped in at a new restaurant that had just opened that weekend, Milagro 139, for appetizers and a glass of wine.

San Ildefonso Pueblo

…more pics from San Ildefonso

La Casa Sena courtyard and wine shop

Walking around town

Day 4: Drove up to Bandelier National Monument to hike around the cliff dwellings of the Pueblo Indians that date back to the 11th century. A very interesting and beautiful area! After hiking the dwellings and having a picnic lunch there, we drove back to Santa Fe for our last dinner of the vacation. We decided to eat at a restaurant that we looked at earlier that had a great menu w/ great prices – Dinner for Two. We chose their Monday dinner special which is a three course meal for $19 – the food and service was excellent!   What a perfect way to cap off our last evening in Santa Fe!!

Bandelier National Monument…

…more Bandelier

…and more

… and more

Dinner for Two

Salad; grilled dry aged New York Strip; stuffed chicken breast & tornado of beef

Day 5: Said goodbye to Santa Fe and drove back to Albuquerque. Before heading to the airport we stopped at a winery – Casa Rondena – to sample some New Mexican wines. The estate is beautiful and the wines are very good!

Casa Rondena Winery; tasting room…

…and the estate

That’s all folks! Until next time…

Bruno

Christmas Dinner Chez Paula’s

Here’s the menu:

Jumbo shrimp w/ spicy cocktail sauce

Rib eye roast stuffed w/ spinach, crimini mushrooms and goat cheese

Oven roasted potatoes w/ rosemary and garlic

Shredded brussel sprouts w/ fresh chestnuts and applewood smoked bacon

Snow peas and carrots

Beer bread

Cardamom and clove gelato

Cookies and chocolates

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas!!

Best wishes for 2009!

Bruno

December 23rd: Helping Santa Deliver to…

…Kauai, Hawaii where we had an 18 hour layover. Enough time to see some sights, eat dinner and sleep!

Hotel scenes and beach

Me; Opaeka’a Falls; camouflaged chickens and doves

Another beach; somewhere on Kuhio Highway; one lane bridge to Hanalei

Hanalei Bay and Hanalei Valley

Happy Trails…

Bruno

Dark Chocolate Gelato w/ Candied Chestnuts & Blueberries

This was my contribution to the Thanksgiving feast…

Dark Chocolate Gelato w/ Candied Chestnuts and Blueberries

Ingredients:

1 cup fresh chestnuts – cooked, peeled, candied and broken into 1/3 inch pieces

6 ounces dark chocolate  – chopped

1/2 cup dried blueberries – soaked in cranberry vodka for 2 hours

6 egg yolks

1 quart half & half

 1 cup sugar

Procedure:

1) In a metal bowl, whisk egg yolks and sugar until mixture becomes smooth and pale yellow
2) Place chopped chocolate in a small bowl
3) Place half & half in a heavy pot and heat until scalded
4) Pour 1/3 cup of  hot half & half onto chocolate and blend until all chocolate is melted and smooth – keep warm
5) Very slowly add remaining hot half & half to egg/sugar mixture so as not to curdle the mixture
6) Place bowl w/ mixture over a pot of simmering water, stirring continuously until mixture coats the back of a metal spoon (do not let mixture exceed 170 degrees F to prevent curdling)
 7) Remove mixture from heat and blend in melted chocolate then quickly place bowl in an ice bath to stop the cooking process and promote rapid cooling
8) Once cool, refrigerate mixture for at least 4 hours or overnight

9) Churn mixture in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions, adding candied chestnuts and blueberries when mixture becomes thick
10) Pour gelato into a 2 quart plastic container and quickly stir to evenly distribute the candied chestnuts and blueberries
11) Place a piece of parchment paper cut to size on the surface of  gelato (this will reduce air exposure and prevent ice crystals from forming on the surface of the gelato), seal container and freeze until firm
Yield: Approx. 1 1/2 quarts
Happy Holidays!

 

Sourdough Baguettes for the Holidays

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Hi everyone,

 Here’s a recipe that I put together for baguettes using sourdough starter. I couldn’t find any simple recipes for sourdough baguettes when I did a web search, so I combined a couple of recipes, took a chance and voila… it succeeded! I took these over to my friend’s house to share at the delicious Christmas feast that was prepared yesterday.

Sourdough Baguettes

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups bread flour

2 1/4 teaspoons salt

2 cups active sourdough starter

1 cup cool water

corn meal for dusting sheet pan

Procedure:

1) In a large bowl mix together the flour, salt, starter and water

2)  Remove mixture from bowl and knead for 8 minutes on a floured surface

3) Put dough back into the bowl, cover w/ plastic wrap and bulk ferment at room temperature for 90 minutes

4) Weigh dough into 3 equal portions then shape into tight balls, cover w/ plastic wrap and let bench rest for 1 hour

5) Shape into 14 inch baguettes by rolling from the center out using the palms of your hands

6) Lightly dust baguettes w/ some flour and place them on a parchment paper lined sheet pan that is generously dusted w/ corn meal

7) Cover w/ plastic wrap and place in refrigerator overnight

8) Let stand at room temperature for 1 1/2 hours prior to baking (since it is winter here and my kitchen is cool, I placed the baguettes in the unheated oven w/ the light on to give them some warmth)

9) Preheat oven to 425 degrees F

10) Dust baguettes w/ flour and dock w/ a serrated knife  – hold knife at a 30 degree angle and make 4 or 5 diagonal cuts

11) Place a container of hot water at the bottom of the oven

12) Place baguettes in oven on middle rack and bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown  – – quickly pour 1/2 cup of water onto the bottom sides of the oven right after placing baguettes in

13) After 1 minute quickly pour in another 1/2 cup of water – repeat once again 2 minutes later (the steam helps promote the “oven spring” and crust gloss)

14) Remove baguettes from oven and let cool

15) Share the bread w/ your friends!

**  yields 3 baguettes

 I hope everyone is having an enjoyable holiday season! If you’re feeling stressed, I recommend breaking away from the holiday hustle-bustle, slowing down to relax, bake this bread, break out a nice bottle of wine and some cheese and sit down w/ some of your favorite friends to enjoy a peaceful moment together. That’s what I did and I feel so much better!!

Happy holidays to all… see you in 2008!!

 Bruno

Spiced Caramel Apple Gelato

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This was my contribution to the Thanksgiving feast at my friends’ house. I also brought a bottle of 2007 Georges DuBoeuf Beaujolais Nouveau that was “tender, fruity, harmonious, elegant, fresh and delicious.”

The gelato was a success. My friends liked this flavor better than the pumpkin gelato I brought last year. The caramel ended up clumping at the bottom during the churning process and what didn’t clump was incorporated into the mixture. I removed the clump of caramel when I was pouring the finished product into the container. The gelato was nevertheless delicious. Next time I will stir in the caramel sauce at the very end, after the finished product has been pour into its container. Hopefully this will give me the result I was trying to achieve – a nice caramel swirl!

Spiced Caramel Apple Gelato

Ingredients:

6 cardamom pods – crushed

1 teaspoon Penzy’s cake spice

6 egg yolks

1 cup sugar

1 quart half & half

1/2 cup unsalted roasted pistachios – shelled and skins removed

1 1/4 cups Granny Smith apples cut into 1/2 inch dice, lightly sauteed in butter w/ a dusting of cinnamon, brown sugar and the juice of half a lime

caramel sauce (see recipe below) 

Procedure:

1) In medium saucepan heat half  & half gently to a simmer w/ cardamom and cake spice, then turn off heat and let mixture steep for 15 minutes; reheat and pass through a fine mesh strainer prior to adding to egg yolks/sugar

2) In medium size mixing bowl combine egg yolks and sugar and beat together until pale yellow

3) Beat 2 tablespoons of the warm half  & half into the egg mixture (do this slowly to avoid curdling the eggs), then beat in the remaining half  & half little by little

4) Place bowl over a pot of simmering water and cook over a gentle heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture coats the back of a spoon (do not let temperature exceed 170 degrees F or mixture will start to curdle)

5) Cool in an ice bath and chill for at least 4 hours in fridge

6) Churn in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions, adding the pistachios, apples and 3/4 of the caramel sauce two thirds of the way through the churning process

7) Transfer gelato to a 2 quart plastic container, quickly stir to evenly distribute the apples and nuts, cover top w/ parchment paper cut to size (this will reduce air exposure and prevent ice crystals from forming on the surface of gelato), and freeze until firm

Yield: Approx. 1 ½ quarts

Caramel Sauce (recipe adapted from Food & Wine)

Ingredients:
1/4 cup dark rum
1/2 cup raisins
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup whipping cream
 
Procedure:
In a small bowl, soak the raisins in the rum.
In a heavy medium saucepan, combine the sugar and water and cook over moderate heat until a deep amber caramel forms. Remove from the heat. Slowly and carefully add a little of the whipping cream to stop the cooking. Add the remaining whipping cream and stir in the raisins and rum.

I hope everyone reading this post had as fantastic of a Thanksgiving Day as I did!

Ciao…

Bruno

Bastille Day 2007

It was a great day to celebrate the storming of the Bastille. This is the second annual Bastille Day party chez Paula’s maison. She really outdid herself this year! The menu was magnifique and she even had a French music ensemble playing some Edith Piaf, among other tunes, to set the mood!  There were many more people attending, however my friend and former co-blogger, Duane, was not present this year to chronicle the event as he did last year. Unfortunately he recently found out his cancer has returned and he is once again battling this horrible disease. My thoughts and prayers are w/ him. I wish him the best and hope he will be present next year and able to announce his cancer is once again in remission. Duane, since you were unable to be there, here are some photos for your vicarious enjoyment. I tip my glass to you my friend, may you be back in action soon…

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Le menu; amuse bouche

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Le dinner

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Paula avec ami; Herve'; la music

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Mon tutti fruitti; autre dessert

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Les party people

Salut…

Bruno

Noel Chez Paula

Paula was one of my mom’s best friends and since my mom died 3 years ago Paula has become a good friend of mine too. She loves to open up her house for great dinner parties, and it shows. She always has her table set so elegantly and on this occasion her house was festively decorated to celebrate Christmas! Lets take a look…

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Menu:

Cheese appetizer (Pamela)

Herbed crown roast of pork w/ mustard seed sauce (Paula)

Potatoes Gratinee (Steve)

Shredded brussel sprouts w/ chestnuts, shallots and applewood smoked bacon (me)

Corn (Paula)

Chocolate mousse (Pamela)

Chocolate truffles – mint/tarragon; chai pistachio; earl grey (from my friend Beth who has started her own small chocolate enterprise, “Little Dipper Chocolate“)

Calvados/Coffee

Img_1030_1 Appetizer

Img_1064_1 Let the eating continue…

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Where’s the mousse?!     Img_1090  

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Once the calvados kicked in, the wackiness began…

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I learned something new… according to the salesperson at the cooking store where Paula bought the papillote, these are also called panties… so as the zaniness continued, one of the guests tried on the papillote/panties but they were too small!

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Then I started spanking the monkey and we proceeded to corrupt our new friends the Worthingtons!

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Me thinks it’s time to go home…

Paula, thanks for the hospitality and friendship (and fun)!!

Happy New Year everyone!

Bruno

                                    

                                    

Stuffed Peppadew Peppers

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This is a hectic time of year and the last thing someone needs is to be stressing over cooking, which I typically find therapeutic rather than stressful. Here’s a quick and easy appetizer recipe so you don’t have to go somewhere empty-handed if you promised to make something but ran out of time to do a more complex recipe (as I did). I got this idea from Barbara at Winos and Foodies. I just added some green (i.e., chives) to make the peppadews more Christmasy. Despite their simplicity, these little guys make a good impression and nice presentation!

Peppadew Peppers Stuffed w/ Feta, Cream Cheese and Chives

Ingredients:

6 ounces feta cheese (crumbled)

8 ounces whipped cream cheese

1/3 cup chopped fresh chives

42 peppadew peppers (I found mine at the grocery store’s olive bar)

Procedure:

Combine first 3 ingredients then stuff peppers

** I used the tip of a butter knife to stuff the peppers, however a friend who liked this recipe said they are going to use a pastry bag to insert the filling. A great idea which I will use next time because filling the peppers was the most time consuming part of this recipe.

***You will have some leftover filling which you can use as a spread on crostini or crackers, a dip for veggies, a sandwich spread, or you can buy more peppadews to fill.

Happy Holidays to all and to all a good night!!

Bruno

Thanksgiving Photos w/ Dessert Recipes (Pumpkin Gelato and Pumpkin Pie)

Hi everyone… I’m finally getting around to doing my Thanksgiving post! It’s been a very hectic couple of weeks w/ all the additional holiday activities (parties, shopping, etc…) so I’m taking advantage of this window of opportunity to get this posted before I get swamped.

My friends, Michelle and Byron, graciously invited me to their home for Thanksgiving dinner this year. Michelle did a beautiful job w/ all the food as well as taking the photos of this sumptuous feast. My only contribution to the bounty was the pumpkin gelato w/ candied pecans. Hats off to Byron and Michelle for being such wonderful hosts for my Thanksgiving 2006!! (Thanks to Kristin and Bob too for inviting me over for Thanksgiving lunch – no photos of this delicious spread because I was too busy feeding my face!)

Thanksgiving9_1 The Feast

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Thanksgiving7_1 The Veggies

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Recipes:

Michelle’s Pumpkin Pie

Ingredients:

Pastry dough (use your favorite recipe)

2 cups fresh pumpkin meat (see gelato recipe for procedure)

1 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup whole milk

2 large eggs

3/4 cup packed light brown sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

Pinch of ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon salt

Special equipment: pie weights or raw rice

Procedure:

1) Make pastry dough as directed.

2) Roll out dough into a 14-inch round on a lightly floured surface and fit into a 9-inch glass pie plate (4-cup capacity). Crimp edge decoratively and prick bottom all over. Chill 30 minutes.

3) Preheat oven to 375°°F.

4) Line shell with foil and fill with pie weights. Bake in middle of oven 20 minutes. Remove weights and foil and bake shell until pale golden, 6 to 10 minutes more. Cool in pan on a rack.

5) Whisk together pumpkin, cream, milk, eggs, brown sugar, spices, and salt, then pour into shell.

6) Bake pie in middle of oven 45 to 50 minutes, or until filling is set but center still trembles slightly. (Filling will continue to set as pie cools.) Transfer to rack and cool completely.

Pumpkin Gelato w/ Candied Pecans

Ingredients:

1 cup candied pecan halves

2 cups pumpkin meat (from 1 small pie pumpkin  – 8 to 10 inches in diameter)

1/2 teaspoon grated orange peel

6 egg yolks

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 quart half + half

1 teaspoon Penzys cake spice

Procedure:

For  pumpkin:

1) Wash pumpkin, remove stems, cut in half and scrape out seeds

2) Place pumpkin halves on baking sheet, cut side down, add 1/4 cup water to the pan and bake in 350 degree F oven for 1 hour (the pumpkin should be very soft and slightly browned when done)

3) Remove from oven, turn halves over and set aside to cool

4) When cool enough to handle, scrape out meat and puree in a food processor (leave in processor in order to complete gelato mixture – see gelato procedure)

For candied pecans:

1) Roast pecans in 300 degree F oven for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring frequently, then let cool

2) Combine 1/2 cup sugar and 1/8 cup water in saucepan and cook, stirring, over medium heat until sugar is dissolved

3) Boil to 333-335 degrees F, occasionally brushing sides of pan w/ water to prevent crystals from forming, remove from heat immediately then add pecans and stir until they are well coated

4) Pour onto baking sheet lined w/ parchment paper and quickly separate pecan halves w/ 2 forks (I began using my fingers because using the forks was too slow to separate the pecans before the sugar hardened)

For gelato:

1) In medium saucepan heat half + half and cake spice gently to a simmer, then turn off heat

 2) In medium size mixing bowl combine egg yolks and sugar and beat together until pale yellow

3) Beat 2 tablespoons of the warm half + half into the egg mixture (do this slowly to avoid curdling the eggs), then beat in the remaining half + half little by little

4) Place bowl over a pot of simmering water and cook over a gentle heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture coats the back of a spoon (do not let temperature exceed 170 degrees F or mixture will start to curdle)  

5) Cool in an ice bath

6) Add grated orange peel to pureed pumpkin, blend in 1 1/2 cups gelato mixture to pumpkin to thin puree, then stir puree into the remaining gelato mixture, blending well, and chill for at least 4 hours in fridge

7) Roughly chop the candied pecans (set aside a few whole pieces for garnishing and munching on while your plating dessert because they’re addictive and damn good!)

8) Churn in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions, adding the chopped pecans halfway through the churning process

9) Transfer gelato to a 2 quart plastic container, cover top w/ parchment paper cut to size (this will reduce air exposure and prevent ice crystals from forming on the surface of gelato), and freeze until firm

Yield: Approx. 1 ½ quarts

Bonus recipe…

Cranberry Chutney

Ingredients:

1 bag fresh cranberries

2 mangoes – peeled and cubed

1 cup orange juice

1 tablespoon maple syrup

Procedure:

Simmer in a pot to a sauce consistency

 

That’s all folks! Until next time…

Bruno