Sunday, October 31, 2010

Sunday Best v.38

I think this picture came from Apartment Therapy. I've had it saved in my inspiration folder for a loooooong time, and I'm returning to it because I'm scheming ways to store all our new kitchen/dining stuff. Right now it's taking up space in every nook and cranny of our apartment. With no wedding to plan now, I'm looking at changes around the house.

Friday, October 29, 2010

A Wedding Montage

Our amazing, amazing photographer and friend, Ryan Burke, sent over this stop-motion montage he made. I am in LOVE with it, and keep watching it on repeat.

We have our pictures now, so I'm calling next week, "Wedding Week," and I'm going to recap everything! Probably to the extreme, but I hope you'll join me in reveling in the wedding glory one last time!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Broccoli Rabe Pesto

Ever since we returned from San Francisco, I keep staring at my pictures of the sandwich I had at Tartine Bakery and drooling. I know I can't even come close to recreating their bread, but I thought I could at least take a stab at recreating the flavors at home. The sandwich, to recap, involved broccoli rabe pesto, fontina cheese and soppressata on country bread. First up: make broccoli rabe pesto.

I used this recipe as a guide. You'll need: broccoli rabe (similar to broccoli, but with smaller, thinner buds), garlic cloves, pine nuts, grated parmesan, lemon juice, salt, pepper, chili flakes (I subbed red pepper flakes) and plenty of olive oil.

First things first, I chopped the buds from the stems and sauteed them about a minute until they were crisp tender. That's what you see in the picture above.

Then I dumped the broccoli rabe in an ice bath to shock the veggies and preserve the color and texture. This is crucial if you like your veggies a little crisp the way I do; another crucial thing: a Sean to make your ice bath in advance. Once the broccoli is cool, pat it dry with a paper towel.

Have you seen my new best friend, the Garlic Zoom? It's like a toy for cooking! You pop a garlic clove in the top, which is hinged, and then zoom back and forth to make tiny blades mince the garlic. It is AWESOME.

Anyway, back to the broccoli. Chop it up, preferably using your brand new santoku knife that you're in love with.

And in a blender or food processor (we used our new KitchenAid blender!), place the broccoli, 1/2 cup of pine nuts, minced garlic, 1/2 cup of grated parmesan, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and a cup of olive oil.

And blend that sucker till it's smooth!

I happened to have plenty of jars around (they were used in our centerpieces at the wedding), so I dressed it up all pretty in an old mason jar.

And enjoyed a little bit on the loaf of bread I purchased at The Fresh Market.

Now here's the nitty gritty truth: I think I needed more broccoli to make that ratio of ingredients to work. My pesto is good, but it tastes more of parmesan than broccoli. The truth is that broccoli rabe comes with much more leafy, stemmy stuff you can't use than actual buds, so you might need to alter the amount of everything to reflect that. Still, I'm in panini heaven this week!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

BBQ Burger with Sweet Potato Straws

So I'm sitting with my boss and our former intern, Alex, at a sushi restaurant when I found myself transfixed by the pile of crispy, wispy sweet potato straws resting atop their Amazing Roll. I had a vision: What if I put that on top of a burger?

From that moment on, I had a mission and it was to do just that. But what I didn't have was a know-how. Google searches for "sweet potato straws" or "fried sweet potato strands" didn't turn up munch and after trying about every grater or cutting tool in my kitchen, I still had no idea how to achieve that goal. (I just did a more specific search on Google and found that apparently I need a very fancy Mandolin slicer or a very cheap Julienne shredder.)

Finally, Sean said, "This is ridiculous, just make long strips with a vegetable peeler" and then he did just that.

My dream was dead, but it's okay, because at the end of the day, they'll still taste amazing. So I dipped the sweet potatoes in a quick 10-minute ice bath, then dried them with a paper towel before tossing them in vegetable oil, boiling at 350 degrees.

But that's a very edited version of what actually happened. What really happened was that I set the oil to boil while I was struggling with my various graters, absentmindedly forgot and was confused when I heard a persistent beeping coming from the hallway. Oh right! Something was burning.

We were trying to desperately air out the kitchen/dining area/living area when I realized, oh right, I'm burning a hamburger bun in the toaster. Multitasking fail, for reals!

But no sense crying over burning kitchens. I let the sweet potato strips boil for just a minute, until they looked like their chip form.

I then sprinkled them with salt and pepper, and let them dry on a paper towel.

And finally, achieved my dream of crispy sweet potatoes on my burger! We had some barbecue sauces left over from our rehearsal dinner, so I squirted a bit of that over melted cheddar, topped with the sweet potatoes and chowed down. The combo of flavors was SO GOOD, and I honestly think this could be on the menu of all my favorite burger joints.

P.S. I think crispy sweet potatoes could be a great alternate topping for anything you would typically top with fried onions. You could also bake them to avoid the stigma of having deep-fried something.

Wino Wednesday: Hallowino 2010

Our wine club had its second "Hallowino" gathering last week, and I thought I'd share some pictures for those of you with big, fun plans for the weekend. Our hostess Jennifer went above and beyond, decorating and making cute appetizers. She twisted Pillsbury breadsticks into bones!

And created fangs with apple slices and almond pieces.

Like last year, we brought wines with haunted or spooky labels and themes. I didn't manage to get pictures of all of them, and a week later, I barely remember what they tasted like, but I can at least give you a rundown of what we've got pictured:
  • Twisted Pinot Grigio: This is a citrusy white wine that says it's "an enchanting taste of summer, regardless of the season." I don't remember loving it or hating it; I barely remember it, so that's gotta mean something, right?
  • Bogle Phantom: This is a blend of petit syrah, zinfandel and mourvedre, and a favorite of ours. We had Bogle Phantom last year as well, and it's a great, drinkable wine. I personally love blends.
  • Garnache de Fuego: (not pictured). The web site says it's smoky cherry meets licorice and chocolate. I don't remember, to be honest!
  • Twisted Cabernet Sauvignon: This is a smoky, oaky wine with hints of vanilla, which I love. I like cabs, plain and simple.
  • Vampire Cabernet Sauvignon: This was also a blend, of mostly cab with merlot and syrah. I seem to remember it being spicy.
  • Apothic Red: This was another blend of syrah, merlot and zinfandel, with hints of vanilla and chocolate. I love those smooth, oaky vanilla-y reds, so I liked it.
Our party demanded costumes, of course. What would a wine club be without a devil and angel to sit on our shoulders?

The group: an 80s jazzerciser, Mrs. Freddie Krueger, an angel, Snooki, Dorothy, a Frenchman, a devil and a luau attendee. I had to scramble to come up with a costume and then remembered my Francophile self has striped shirts out the wazoo and the perfect red beret, so Frenchman it was. Quite appropriate for wine club, if I do say so myself.

Have fun on your Halloween weekend!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Sweet and Spicy Pumpkin Seeds

So we carved three pumpkins and we had SO MANY SEEDS. Apparently people toast or roast them, but I'd never done that (I know, sacrilege). I perused the internets and chose Martha Stewart's recipe for sweet and spicy pumpkin seeds.

First, I soaked my pumpkin seeds in water to remove as much of the stringy pulp as possible, then strained them in a colander for 30 minutes.

I removed the seeds and patted them dry with a paper towel. Or at least that's what I was supposed to do. They totally stuck to my paper towel, were slick and were just generally not going the way I thought they would. But you know me; I just pressed forward.

Once they were...drier...I spread them on parchment paper on a baking sheet. The oven was preheated to 275 degrees when I popped them in. I let them roast for one hour, stirring them around twice.

Meanwhile, I mixed up the spices: three tablespoons of sugar and 1/4 teaspoons each of cumin, cinnamon and ginger.

Once the seeds were roasted, I started melting four tablespoons of butter, instead of peanut oil as Martha suggested. WARNING: Here is where I think I could have let them roast longer!!

I dumped the seeds, plus two more tablespoons of sugar in the butter and stirred until it began to slightly caramelize.

And I dumped that whole mixture into the spices and stirred it up.

Ta-da! Spicy and sweet roasted pumpkin seeds.

But this story does not have a happy ending. First of all, they weren't fully crunchy because I didn't know quite what I was looking to achieve. Second of all, cumin overpowers everything it comes into contact with, so I would skip the cumin or use less of it. I had high hopes of sharing my pumpkin seeds at work, but two bites and we all kind of wrinkled our noses. I have plenty of seeds left, so I'm going to try it again, minus the cumin and plus more roasting time.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Monogram Pumpkins

I feel like I've been running to catch up with fall. It's my very favorite season, which is part of why I wanted to get married during autumn, but as a result I feel like I've half-missed it because of wedding distractions.

This weekend I resolved to catch up. We went to Howl-O-Scream on Friday night, made chili on Saturday night and on Sunday, I put my foot down and told Sean the time had come to carve pumpkins.

As with all things on this blog, we were total novices at pumpkin-carving. When I was growing up, my dad would let me design the face and he would carve it for me. In college and living on my own, I never had a porch so I didn't bother carving pumpkins. And last year, we just ran out of time.

Sean says his family was spotty about carving pumpkins, so he had never really done it either. Thus began our carving adventure. I thought we'd keep it simple and classy this year, so we agreed to carve our new monogram: sKa. (I'm sure all our neighbors think we're huge ska fans.)

In case you are new to this as well, here's how it works. You hastily choose a knife, and carve a lid out of the top of the pumpkin. Sean carved a very tiny lid, which was kind of hilarious.

Then you scrape out the innards with an ice cream scoop. Reserve the seeds for roasting later!

We had no clue what we were doing, so we tried about every knife in the kitchen before Miranda and Travis dropped by, saw us about to cut off our thumbs, and instructed us to use serrated knives.

I pinned my "A" (in Desmerelda font...the only time in my life I'd ever use that font) with toothpicks and carved along the lines with a knifepoint to make indentations as guides.

Sean was moving briskly along, and popped his "S" out easily. It looked so cool; I kinda wanted to keep that part.

My A was a little more awkward, partially because of the font choice and partially because of the inherent difficulties in carving out the middle part. I suspended it with a toothpick, which seemed to work okay.

Sean proved a much better carver than I, so he knocked out our "K" while I separated seeds from pulp.

And we took them outside to admire! I love them, although I wish I'd done my A in Helvetica for symmetry's sake. I'm sure everyone in the neighborhood thinks we are totally wack, though. Whatevs!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sunday Best v.37

Our photographer is plugging away at editing wedding pictures, but in the meantime, he gave us this little sneak peek that I thought I'd share with you. Care of the most amazing Ryan Burke.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

San Francisco: The Sights

Because I'm a crazy person, this is a very picture-heavy post, so I'm going to keep the words to a minimum. Just know that San Francisco is a beautiful city, with some of the most gorgeous parks and free, public spaces I've ever seen.

You can cross the bridge, which is about a mile and a half, but we just walked halfway out and came back.

The area around the bridge is called the Presidio, and curves along the shoreline. This was a dog beach we passed on our walk.

Close to the Presidio is the Palace of Fine Arts. It's a leftover from an expo at the turn of the century and is the only remaining building that was constructed out of permanent materials. It is breathtakingly gorgeous, and currently under repairs.

On our walk to Dynamo Donut, we traveled through the Latin part of town. I tried to convince Sean to buy a Mexican wrestling mask, but he ignored me.

Gates at the City College of San Francisco's Mission branch.

Index card portraits outside Dog-Eared Books on Valencia Street in the Mission.

The outside of 826 Valencia, Dave Eggers' now-national nonprofit devoted to teaching kids how to write. Each branch has a themed storefront to generate funds; this one has a pirate supply store. Next door is Paxton Gate, an amazing store that sells everything you would need to make your home look like a museum of natural history or a mad scientist's lab.

A hipsterized Seurat knock-off in the Mission.

The view from the top of Mission Dolores Park.

The rainbow flags in the Castro, called "the gayest corner in the world."

Posing with the "Full House" houses just off Alamo Square.

They're called Painted Ladies, and boy are they gorgeous.

We rode the trolley on our last full day there; they were celebrating the Giants advancement to the finals (is that right? what do i know?).

Me with the sea lions that hang out at Pier 39 on Fisherman's Wharf.

View of the bridge from a Bay cruise.

Alcatraz Island, home of the most hardened criminals of the 20th century prior to its closure in the 60s.

Awesome shot of the vintage streetcars used in the Wharf.

Coit Tower, built with funds from a rich widow who loved the city and loved its firemen.

Murals inside the tower were painted by students of Diego Rivera.

City Lights Bookstore, owned by famous literary patron Lawrence Ferlinghetti, who published Allen Ginsberg's "Howl."

Hope you enjoyed your little picture tour of San Francisco!