Archive for the 'Friendship' Category

A Nontraditional Thanksgiving

I decided to host Thanksgiving for a few friends this year. An unusual lasagna recipe caught my eyes, so I decided to give it a try for our holiday meal. I made a few slight variations from the original recipe, such as using shitake mushrooms, and parmesan instead of mozzarella. Also, I have two layers of the filling, instead of just one. The finished product was apparently a hit because my friends asked for the recipe. Sylvia Fountaine is the recipe creator. Click here for her original recipe: Polenta Lasagna with Smoky Red Pepper Sauce! – Feasting At Home.

For dessert, we enjoyed one of my favorite childhood treats, Apple Brown Betty, which was a perfect match for the Haut-Armagnac being poured. 

Here are a few pics of the food…

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Thanksgiving5 2021

Happy Holidays!

Bruno

Wood-Fired Treats on a Chilly Halloween Afternoon

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Fall has definitely arrived in St. Louis. It was a good day to break out the table top wood-fired oven and practice my cooking skills on a beautiful, chilly afternoon. I made calzones in a cast iron skillet for the first time, as well as a few pizzas. The calzones were filled w/ goat cheese, shitake mushrooms, roasted broccoli, orange bell pepper and garlic. The pizzas were topped w/ a San Marzano tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, pesto and chunks of crispy pork jowl bacon. It was a fun and delicious way to spend Halloween afternoon w/ a couple of friends. 

Cheers!

Bruno 

Lamb & Pork Meatballs w/ Berbere Seasoning and Pepper Jam Glaze

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Mission: As requested,  create “something decadent” to bring to a friend’s party.

Since my search for a specific Morrocan spice blend was unsuccessful I decided to go w/ a berbere seasoning that I found at World Market. Berbere is an Ethiopian spice mix that typically includes chili peppers, garlic, ginger, basil, korarima, rue, ajwain or radhuni, nigella and fenugreek. The mix I purchased also included paprika.

I worked the berbere seasoning directly into the ground pork & lamb along w/ a bit of salt, formed it into bite size balls, then browned them in a cast iron skillet. Finished w/ my fresh pepper jam… mission accomplished!

Bon appetit!

Bruno

San Francisco and Sonoma

I visited family and friends in Northern California last week. The weather was fantastic, the food was delicious and my overall experience was top notch! While in San Francisco, I visited my favorite art museums – SFMOMA and The de Young. I also tried a couple of new restaurants – Piccino and Burma Superstar. I highly recommend both!

In Sonoma, my friends took me to Gloria Ferrer Vineyards the afternoon I arrived. We sampled some of their delicious sparkling wines and snacked on some local cheeses. A wonderful way to start the weekend! The next morning we drove to Petaluma for breakfast at Hallie’s Diner. Delicious omelets! Later that day my friend treated me to a vintage biplane ride to the Golden Gate Bridge and back. What a fantastic, once in a lifetime experience!! For dinner we grabbed a grilled chicken meal at El Brinquito Meat Market. What a great deal – a whole grilled chicken, beans, rice, tortillas and spicy sauce for a mere $20. This was washed down w/ a couple of bottles of local wines. Heavenly!!

Here are a few snapshots of my wonderful trip:

SF1 10-16-18 My view in S. F.

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Sonoma1 10-19-18 My view in Sonoma

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Sonoma4 10-19-18

Sonoma5 10-19-18 Me

Sonoma6 10-19-18 My gracious hosts, Dan and Lorraine

Sonoma7 10-19-18 The view from the tasting terrace

Sonoma1 10-20-18 Biplane ride

Sonoma3 10-20-18

Sonoma2 10-20-18 Approaching S.F. and the Golden Gate

Sonoma4 10-20-18 Nice shot!

Sonoma5 10-20-18 The delta

Sonoma7 10-20-18 Sonoma scenery

Sonoma8 10-20-18 Landing…

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Bon Voyage!

Bruno

1989 Chateau Margaux

A great wine deserves a great meal to go with it!  On the menu: Filet mignon w/ shaved black truffles and a merlot/porcini sauce; rosti potatoes; roasted Brussels sprouts w/ agrodolce. For dessert: Frost Bitten Ice Riesling w/ assorted cookies and Brie.

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wine dinner1 2017

brie wine dinner 2017 (Brie)

Cheers and Happy Holidays!

Bruno

Thanksgiving 2017

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I definitely did! My friends M + B invited me over for a delicious feast. I contributed shredded Brussels sprouts w/ chestnuts and applewood smoked bacon. Additionally, I brought some cupcakes from Jilly’s. The flavors I chose were Reese’s chunkage, pumpkin pie, apple pie, turtle cheesecake, Oreo pie and sweet potato pie. The feast also consisted of a perfect turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, stuffing, and salad. My belly was very satisfied! Here are a few photos from our gluttonous evening: 

Jilly's Cupcakes

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Here’s to good friends…

Bruno

Bean & Escarole Stew w/ Spiced Pastry Crisps; Pear Tart w/ Quince Glaze

A comforting dinner for a cold winter night w/ friends.

The bean stew tasted better than it looks in the photo. There was no time for food fluffing… I had party guests arriving at any minute! Kalamata rather than Castelvetrano olives were used.  I browned some ham chunks for the non-vegetarians to add to their stew if desired. The stew recipe also called for garlic rubbed rustic bread toast which I substituted w/ the spiced pastry crisps. They’re very easy to make… just roll out some pastry/pie dough, cut into slivers and sprinkle w/ harissa spice blend and freshly grated parmesan, then bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees F.

 Bartlett pears were used for the tart although after grocery shopping I learned they are not the preferred choice for baking. Supposedly they don’t hold up well when baked, but the tart turned out fine.

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Navy Bean and Escarole Stew (recipe adapted from Bon Appetit)

Ingredients:

1 1/2 heads garlic

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion – chopped

1 fennel bulb – chopped

1 1/4 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest

3 teaspoons finely chopped rosemary

3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

3 bay leaves

3 cups dried navy beans soaked overnight, drained

8 oz. crumbled feta cheese

1 1/2 cups kalamata olives, pitted and halved lengthwise

1 head escarole, leaves torn into 2 inch pieces

Procedure:

1) Smash garlic cloves w/ the flat side of a chef’s knife.

2) Heat olive oil in a large dutch oven, add garlic and cook over medium heat, stirring often, until golden (approx. 5-7 min.).

3) Add onion and fennel, season lightly w/ salt, cook, stirring often, until onion is translucent and onion and fennel are browned around the edges (approx. 10-15 min.).

4) Add lemon zest, rosemary and red pepper flakes, stirring often, until rosemary is very fragrant (approx. 3-5 minutes).

5) Add bay leaves, beans, 1 teaspoon salt and 12 cups of water; bring to a simmer.

6) Partially cover pot, reduce heat to low, and gently simmer stew until beans are creamy and tender all the way through (approx. 60-80 minutes).

7) Add olives to stew, then add escarole in batches, letting it wilt slightly before adding more; simmer until escarole is tender (approx. 3-5 minutes).

8) Pluck out bay leaves, adding more salt if necessary (keeping in mind the feta is salty, so don’t over season).

9) Serve stew w/ feta and spiced pastry crisps on the side.

Yield: approx. 6 servings

Pear Tart w/ Quince Glaze (recipe adapted from About Food)

Ingredients:

Your favorite pastry dough (I made enough for 2 discs so I could make the pastry crisps for the stew)

5 pears – peeled, cored and sliced lengthwise 3/8 inch thick (I cut the slices in half so it would be easier to arrange in the tart)

1/3 cup sugar

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup quince jelly

Procedure:

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2) Roll out 1 disc of dough so that it’s large enough to line a 10 inch tart dish. Carefully place dough into tart dish by rolling it up on rolling pin and unrolling into dish and letting it settle into corners – don’t press or stretch dough to avoid shrinkage while baking ; evenly trim excess dough from edges of dish.

3) In a bowl, add sugar and lemon juice, then add pear slices and toss so that all slices are coated w/ the lemon/sugar mixture.

4) Arrange the pear slices in concentric circles on the tart dough as neatly as possible.

5) Place tart on middle rack in oven and bake until crust is a nice golden brown (approx. 50 minutes); rotate tart in oven halfway through for even baking.

6) While tart is baking, place quince jelly and 1/8 cup water in a small pot and cook over low heat to dissolve and thicken into a syrup consistency.

7) When tart comes out of the oven, evenly brush quince glaze onto the pears.

8) Serve tart warm or at room temperature (w/ a nice snifter of Armagnac to warm you and your guests up on a cold winter night!).

Yield; 6 to 8 servings depending on how you slice it!

 

Happy New Year!!

Bruno

Lamb Ribs w/ Pepper Jam Glaze; Charred Broccolini w/ Crimini Mushrooms and Agrodolce Sauce; Baby Potato Salad w/ Chives, Tarragon, Basil and Gherkin Vinaigrette

I had a few friends over the other night and served the following menu in honor of one of the friend’s birthday (recipes furnished upon request):

lamb-ribs-dinner1 Lamb Ribs w/ Pepper Jam Glaze

lamb-ribs-dinner3 Charred Broccolini w/ Crimini Mushrooms and Agrodolce Sauce

lamb-ribs-dinner2 Baby Potato Salad w/ Chives, Tarragon, Basil and Gherkin Vinaigrette

Bon Appetit!

Bruno

 

The Gastronomique Tour: Week 2 – Switzerland

The second and final week of my tour lands me in Switzerland to sample some of its delicacies (food and drink), and more importantly, visit w/ my cousins, some of whom I haven’t seen since 2004. My home base was Delemont, the town where my mom grew up and where most of my cousins still live. It’s close to the Alsace region of France so we visited a couple of beautiful towns just across the border – Kaysersberg and Colmar. Other stops were Lucerne (famous for its covered bridge), Vercorin and Grimentz (two alpine villages in the Valais region). Grimentz is one of the best preserved Swiss alpine villages in that region. 

One of my cousins introduced me to Damassine, a delicious eau de vie made from damson plums. It quickly became one of my favorite after dinner drinks, having a great aroma and flavor in addition to aiding in the digestion of wonderful meals. One evening we sautéed 2 types of local fresh trout purchased at the Delemont farmers market and of course we finished the meal w/ a bit of cheese and Damassine!

While in Vercorin, my cousin prepared a tradition meal called Assiette Valaisanne, which typically is a platter loaded w/ local cured meats, local cheeses, butter, thin slices of a dense rye bread called seigle, sliced fruit, nuts, cornichons and tomato wedges. This is served w/ wines produced regionally. It makes a delicious meal. Click here for an example.

It was hunting season while I was in Switzerland, so most restaurants offered seasonal dishes made w/ fresh game meat. I was fortunate to sample some venison and chamois prepare a couple of different ways during some of our meals out. One chef slowly braised chamois for 18 hours and served it w/ local mushrooms, spaetzle, seasonal vegetables and fruit. Another preparation was a roulade of venison breast stuffed w/ ground venison and served w/ red cabbage and spaetzle. Both were delicious!

When in Switzerland, I always hope to eat Raclette (a Swiss specialty). It’s one of my favorite ways to eat cheese. A picture is worth a thousand words as you will see in the photos of the Raclette lunch we ate at a cousin’s home one day.

I hope you enjoy these choice photos as much as I enjoyed my short time in Switzerland!

P1010958 Kaysersberg

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P1010985 Vineyards in Alsace

P1010986 Colmar (aka – “Little Venice”)

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P1020031 Very slow braised chamois at L’Etoile in Moutier

P1020038 After dinner at L’Etoile

P1020051 Lucerne

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P1020095 Delemont (my mom grew up in the building on the right – her dad’s bakery was on the bottom level)

P1020101 One of the many colorful fountains in Delemont

P1020148 Delemont farmers market

P1020130 Our trouts for the evening are the filets on the right

P1020143 Mushrooms galore

P1020209 Downtown Delemont

P1020213 Waiting for the Raclette

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P1020214 Yum!

P1020281 Vercorin

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P1020250 Grimentz

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P1020269 Our lunch spot in Grimentz

P1020276 On the menu…

P1020271 Veggie lasagna

P1020272 Braised venison

P1020273 Venison roulade

Au revior et a bientot j’espere!

Bruno

Asian Basil Gelato w/ Roasted Hazelnuts

asian basil gelato with roasted hazelnuts1

Here’s a good recipe if you still have basil growing in your yard and don’t know what to do w/ it. You could surprise your friends at whatever Thanksgiving gathering you attend this year by bringing something unusual! In this recipe I used Asian basil to add a more pungent flavor, but any basil will work. I also tried a new technique of letting the basil steep in the gelato base in the fridge for 2 days before churning. This punched up the flavor and color.

Basil Gelato w/ Roasted Hazelnuts

Ingredients:

1 cup Asian basil leaves (packed)

6 egg yolks

1 cup sugar

1 quart half & half

1/2 cup roasted hazelnuts (coarsely chopped)

Procedure:

1) In a metal bowl, whisk egg yolks and sugar until mixture becomes smooth and pale yellow.

2) Place half & half in a heavy pot and heat until scalded.

3) Very slowly whisk warm half & half into egg/sugar mixture so as not to curdle the mixture.

4) Place bowl w/ mixture over a pot of simmering water, stirring continuously w/ a heat resistant spatula until mixture coats the back of a metal spoon (do not let mixture exceed 170 degrees F to prevent curdling), then quickly place bowl in an ice bath to stop the cooking process and promote rapid cooling.

5) Once cool, pour into a food processor, add basil and pulse until basil is finely chopped.

6) Pour back into bowl, cover (I use a shower cap that fits snuggly over the top) and place in fridge for 2 days.

7) Churn mixture in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions, adding the hazelnuts when mixture begins to thicken.

8) Pour gelato into a 2 quart plastic container and quickly stir to evenly distribute the hazelnuts and basil.

9) 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 

I hope you enjoy this recipe!

Bruno