Monday, September 22, 2008

On the savory side...

Lest anybody think we subsist solely on cookies, cakes, and breakfast treats, I'd better post a recipe for an actual meal. Now, I get a lot of enjoyment from baking, but I really couldn't give a hoot about cooking. The simpler (and quicker) the meal, the better. Especially with the evening time crunch. But it does make me happy to put a good meal on the table for AudioDad and Munch- and tonight's was a good one. I've been working my way through piles and piles of recipes clipped and collected over the years- and I've put a halt to the numerous food mags coming in until I can get a handle on the situation! When the late-summer heirloom tomatoes looked especially interesting at the market, I thought I'd give this recipe a try. It ended up like a soupy stew and was great with my favorite pugliese bread.

Tomato and White Bean Stew
2 1/2 lbs. ripe tomatoes
1/2 c. fresh basil, chopped
2 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp. sea salt
pepper to taste
2 cans drained white beans (I used a can of garbanzos and a can of cannelini)
8 oz. fresh mozzarella, drained & cut into 1/2" cubes (not the grate-able kind)
1/2 c. grated parmesan
3 c. cooked brown rice

Core and dice/chop the tomatoes. Combine tomatoes with basil, olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper in a saucepan. Add beans and stir over medium heat. Cook about 8 minutes, remove from heat, and add cubed mozzarella and parmesan. Stir until mozzarella starts to soften and melt into stringy lumps. Add additional salt if desired. Serve stew spooned over brown rice and sprinkle with additional parmesan cheese.
Looking forward to leftovers for tomorrow's lunch!

On another topic... we hit the pool again this past weekend. Munch worked on putting her face in the water as she glided from me to AudioDad and back. She is so confident in the water and doesn't quite get that she's not a swimmer... yet.

Using her noodle!

Monday, September 15, 2008

By request...

There was surprise and suspicion that I was holding out on the good stuff when I didn't post the recipe for AudioDad's french toast birthday breakfast. So, to tide you all over while I fine-tune another recipe (one for chocolate espresso sables with sea salt- I'm on version #2 this week and have tweaks ready for batch 3) to be posted in the near future...

French toast! Usually I use the huge loaf from the grocery store- you know, the one cut really thickly, possibly the Sara Lee brand? It makes a nice, dependable french toast, but nothing earth shattering. But when I came across some new bread options at Trader Joe's (LOVE that place!!!) I knew immediately what Munch & I would be fixing for AudioDad's breakfast. I grabbed a loaf of brioche (I may try the challah next just to compare) and sliced it thickly- it made the heaping plate you saw, maybe a dozen slices or so? Again, I don't know that it's the recipe that's anything special, as you'll see below- I think it's the bread choice, or maybe just that it was made with love for our favorite guy! (Who, by the way, deemed it the best he's ever had. What else could he say?) And, I suppose if we're getting fancy with the bread, we may as well call it... pain perdu, a la francaise.

7 eggs
1 tsp. salt
5 tbs. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla paste (it gives you the nice vanilla beans specks, or you can just use vanilla extract)
2 1/4 c. milk
ground cinnamon
about 12 thick slices of bread

Combine the eggs, salt, sugar, vanilla paste, and milk in a large shallow dish (like a deep pie pan)- sprinkle on a couple of shakes of cinnamon- it never combines well, so I don't bother mixing it much. Soak a couple of slices of bread (both sides) in the eggy mixture until saturated. Cook on a well greased griddle over about 325 degree heat until browned on each side and the middles are still tender (not too firm, not too squishy). Repeat with all slices, adding additional cinnamon as needed. Sprinkle cooked french toast with with powdered sugar and serve- with real maple syrup of course (did I even have to say that?), but here's a recommendation- try Grade B syrup. It's richer, thicker, and has more "maply" flavor.

And...while you're waiting for another post, don't forget to check out the links to the right for some of our very favorite food stuffs/producers....

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Happy birthday!

It's AudioDad's birthday- time to celebrate! We kicked off the weekend with Saturday night dinner at Q in Napa. He & I both ordered a delicious beef brisket sandwich topped with some irresistible fried onions.
What's nice this year is that Munch is old enough to have fun helping with the birthday preparations. And, she's slowly learning to keep things a secret. When she picked out this adorable dog

for Daddy last month, I figured I was safe- you usually couldn't drag details of her day out of her without very specific questioning. Unfortunately, she immediately told AudioDad all about the doggies upon returning home- luckily, it didn't make much sense to him at the time. He instead started to worry that I had adopted another puppy from the pound! Within the last week however, we were able to manage wrapping up AudioDad's gifts, hiding them away, and making him a card, all the while Munch is saying, "'s a 'purprise' for Daddy." For breakfast this morning, we made brioche french toast topped with blueberries. Munch put her newly acquired sifting skills to good use:

Munch and I also made a chocolate cake with vanilla frosting which we shared with the family after an impromptu barbecue.


Monday, September 1, 2008

Labor Day Weekend

A three-day, holiday weekend, and it sure couldn't have come at a better time! It's been SO hot-triple digits- that our weekend plans to swim were greatly anticipated! Here's some pics- great food, fun with the family, and thanks for bringing the Wii, Cousin L!
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