Solage Calistoga

Just returned from an AMAZING couple of days of R&R with the girls up North and felt compelled to blog the experience that is Solage Calistoga. It’s nice when you can drive two hours away and feel like you are in a whole new world. I’ve done the entire Napa and Sonoma experience, the restaurants, the wine tasting, but this was a special kind of getaway. Although we were stationed at the Northern most tip of the wine country we really didn’t do anything. We ate, we drank, we lounged, we laughed about nothing, we gossiped.  That was about it. I heard KC this morning say that we “recharged our batteries.” That was it. That’s what we did and sometimes it only takes 48 hours and some close girlfriends to do so. If you are looking for a quick trip to do just that, visit http://www.solagecalistoga.com/ and book a couple of nights.

The recap.

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We stayed in cottage #15. A gorgeous spot which is a quick shot to the pool and restaurant. Did I mention that Solage is Dog friendly? These guys were beside themselves. Two days with their favorite girls and plush dog beds? The labs made themselves at home right away.

We set up camp and spent some time decompressing on the cute little patio we had. The weather was overcast but it was perfect. Solage provides each cottage with beach cruisers to use for your stay. The roads are flat, you can can ride into town or to any of the dozens of wineries surrounding the property.

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The first night we ate at the Michelin Star rated Solbar. It’s not a huge place, the inside is rustic and cozy and the patio is festive and perfect for a couple of ladies looking to unwind. We cozied right up to the marble fire pit nestled under a few strands of lights, ordered a bottle of wine and sampled some pretty fantastic items…. including:

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 A tangle of raw winter vegetables with greek yogurt ranch dressing,
 king trumpets, dried french onions, and pickled mustard seeds
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braised pork belly, craw fish and daikon roll, house kimchi
 crispy onion, pasteli, pineapple and tamarind jus
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The Chef’s tasting was fabulous: “SolBar Cigars”
Served in a cigar ashtray. Thin Phylo dough rolled with
wild Alaskan smoked salmon, a horseradish creme friache
filling with chives.
There were so many amazing dishes on the menu, we were tempted to try a few different items until we heard about the chicken. Then we knew that no one was going to be sharing, so we all ordered the same thing.
I love truffle and this was probably one of the most fantastic truffle dishes that I have ever ordered.
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Black truffle roasted St. Mary’s chicken
 with a cassoulet of flageolet beans and stewed chicken
 honeyed cippolini, mustard greens & rhubarb. Just a note
 about this chicken – the black truffle was smothered with butter
 underneath the skin of the chicken and infused the entire dish.
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The remnants of what was

cremeux of venezuelan chocolate and pistachio cream.
Day two was spent riding into town, lounging by the pool and playing a couple of rounds of sunset Bocce Ball over cocktails. While I was tempted to stick to the Moscow Mule that I have been loving lately, something different caught my attention and might be my new drink of choice – that is, if I ever learn how to make Orgeat Syrup at home. I give you the “Moon and Stars:”

Bombay gin, fresh fennel, house made orgeat syrup, ginger ale and star anise. YUM YUM YUM YUM YUM.
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The restaurant was so great the first night, how could we not go back? On the second night we ate off of the lounge menu, a lighter version of the full menu with a phenomenal experience called “The lucky pig.”

 10 hour slow roasted shoulder of Hampshire pork with sesame crepes, lettuce cups, Mongolian peanuts, pickled pineapple, sweet chile sauce and…..some assembly required.
We capped the night off with a glass of wine in the hot tub and cruised the old Silvarado Trail Home today.  I can’t wait to come back to this amazing spot with my husband.
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The Romance and Sex Life of the Date…..Bread.

29336_399263391699_1968499_nDates are sexy, just ask anyone at Shields in Indo, CA. A stone’s throw away from casa Circle in La Quinta, you’ll stumble upon Sheild’s Date gardens. Palm Springs was like my second home growing up, we went every winter/spring break and usually once or twice during the summer. Now that my parents have retired in La Quinta, I appreciate Shields more than ever.  I never really liked dates growing up – there was no reason to eat them unless we stopped for one of their famous date shakes on a 115 degree day during the summer. Mom always wanted to look around the market which offers every type of date variety, condiment, bar, cookie, or bread that you can think of. Dad was always trying to get my sister and I excited to watch the “Sex life of the date” the documentary that captured the exciting world of date harvesting that all children are super interested in. It ran on a 15 minute loop in a musty old theater in the back of the store that sat about 100 people but never had more than three or four at one time. It had air conditioning though, so my sister and were usually happy to oblige.

Mom would always bring a giant five-pound vat of date crystals back to Los Altos with us to make date shakes at home. So, in my 20’s, when I was pulling out of La Quinta with my car full of Tab (I’ll go into that later) I grabbed a five-pound canister of date crystals. I’ve been wondering what to do with them ever since. A girl can only drink so many date shakes.

Behold, my banana date bread.

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1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup of coconut oil (whole foods)
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten
3 bananas, finely crushed
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup of date crystals —- soaked in milk and drained.
Directions:Cream together butter and sugar.Add eggs, date crystals and crushed bananas.

Combine well.

Sift together flour, soda and salt. Add to creamed mixture. Add vanilla.

Pour into greased and floured loaf pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 60 minutes.

Chocolate Stout Cupcakes with Whiskey Ganache Filling and Irish Cream Frosting

Thank you Smitten Kitchen 🙂 My Irishman gave these two thumbs up.

Ingredients

For the Stout Chocolate Cupcakes:
    • 1 cup stout (such as Guinness)
    • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
    • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-process)
    • 2 cups all purpose flour
    • 2 cups sugar
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
    • 3/4 teaspoon salt
    • 2 large eggs
    • 2/3 cup sour cream
For the Whiskey Ganache Filling:
    • 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
    • 2/3 cup heavy cream
    • 2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
    • 2 teaspoons Irish whiskey (optional)
For the Irish Cream Frosting:
  • 3 to 4 cups confections sugar
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup tablespoons Baileys

Instructions

Make the Cupcakes:
    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line 24 cupcake cups with liners. Bring 1 cup stout and 1 cup butter to a simmer in a heavy, large saucepan over medium heat. Add the cocoa powder and whisk until the mixture is smooth. Cool slightly.
    2. Whisk the flour, sugar, baking soda, and 3/4 teaspoon salt in large bowl to blend. Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs and sour cream in another large bowl to blend. Add the stout-chocolate mixture to the egg mixture and beat just to combine. Add the flour mixture and beat briefly on low speed. Using a rubber spatula, fold the batter until it’s completely combined. Divide the batter among the cupcake liners, filling them two-thirds to three-quarters of the way. Bake the cupcakes until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, rotating them once front to back if your oven bakes unevenly, about 16-18 minutes. Cool the cupcakes on a rack completely.
Make the Whiskey Ganache:
    1. Chop the chocolate and place in a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream until simmering and pour it over the chocolate. Let it sit for one minute and then whisk until smooth (if there are still pieces of unmelted chocolate after whisking for a couple of minutes, you can heat it over a double boiler, whisking constantly until it’s completely smooth). Add the butter and whiskey and stir until combined.
Fill the Cupcakes:
    1. Let the ganache cool until thick but still soft enough to be piped (you can put it in the fridge to speed up this process, but make sure to stir it every 10 minutes). Meanwhile, using your 1-inch round cookie cutter, an apple corer, or a small sharp knife, cut the centers out of the cooled cupcakes. You want to go most of the way down the cupcake but not cut through the bottom — aim for 2/3 of the way. Put the ganache into a piping bag with a wide tip (or a plastic bag with a corner snipped off) and fill the holes in each cupcake to the top. Technically, you’re only supposed to fill the ganache to the top of the cupcake, but I allowed mine to peak, so it looked like a little hershey’s kiss on top. I figured a little extra whiskey ganache didn’t hurt.
Make the Irish Cream Frosting:
  1. Whip the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, for several minutes until very light and fluffy. Slowly add the powdered sugar, a few tablespoons at a time.
  2. When the frosting looks thick enough to spread, drizzle in the Baileys and whip it until combined. If the frosting is too thin, beat in another spoonful or two of powdered sugar.
  3. Lastly, ice and decorate the cupcakes. I used green sprinkles to make it festive for St. Patrick’s Day, but they’re also pretty on their own.

Since I haven’t figured out the formatting quite yet – here is the step by step gallery. Dermot gave them two thumbs up. They are silly delicious.

How to Feed an Irishman

 

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With St. Patty’s right around the corner I am reminded that one of the quickest ways to a man’s heart is through his belly. Especially if he is Irish. I have a long list of goodies on the menu this week. Here’s a sneak peak:

Leprechaun Balls

http://blommi.com/leprechaun-balls-a-st-patricks-day-dessert-for-grown-ups/

Beef Pot Pies with Cheddar Stout Crust

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/beef-potpies-with-cheddar-stout-crust-recipe/index.html

My mom’s cornedbeef and cabbage

Shhhh, that one’s a secret

Chocolate Stout Cupcakes with whiskey ganache filling and Irish Cream Frosting

http://pixelatedcrumb.com/2012/03/12/chocolate-stout-cupcakes-with-whiskey-ganache-filling-and-irish-cream-frosting

and I’m probably going to have to make an Irish Bread Braid

http://taste-for-adventure.tablespoon.com/2013/03/06/irish-bread-braid/

 

That should do it. Stay tuned….

 

 

 

Baked Chicken Parm

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Ingredients
15 oz can of tomato puree
2 cloves of garlic
1/4 grated onion
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup of bread crumbs
1/2 cup of parm, cheese
2 tbsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp garlic powder
4 to 5 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup part-skim shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup of milk
DirectionsClick here to see how it’s made.
In a skillet saute garlic and onion until glossy, mix in tomato puree. Pour into 9×11 baking dish.

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in a large bowl combine all seasoning, bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese. Slice chicken breasts lengthwise in half. Insert chicken breasts into a freezer bag and pound with a mallet until 1/4 inch thick.
Place chicken in bowl and toss with Milk. Dip chicken generously in bread crumb mix and lay on top of the sauce in the baking dish. Cover with Mozzarella cheese. Cover, bake at 350 for 45 minutes removing cover for the last 10-12 minutes.

Thai Coconut Lime Hot & Sour Soup

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Andrew Zimmern was cruising through Thailand when I was inspired to make this. You aren’t going to find everything you need at Safeway, you’ll have to hit up a Ranch 99 or other Asian Food market. I don’t know what I am going to do with a gallon if fish sauce or 500 thai chili peppers, so if you have any ideas please share. BTW, Fish sauce stinks.

  1. 3 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
  2. 2 1/2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  3. 1/3 cup packed cilantro leaves, for garnish
  4. 1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
  5. 2 fresh or dried kaffir lime leaves or 1 teaspoon finely grated lime zest
  6. 1 stalk lemongrass, tender inner white part only, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
  7. Two 14-ounce cans coconut milk
  8. 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon tamarind concentrate
  9. 1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and caps thinly sliced
  10. 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken thighs, sliced crosswise into 2-by-1/4-inch pieces
  11. 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons Thai red chile paste
  12. 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  13. 2 red or green Thai chiles, very thinly sliced on the bias
  14. 1/4 cup Asian fish sauce

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  1. In a medium bowl, toss the chicken with the fish sauce.
  2. In a large pot, combine the stock with the sugar, chile paste, tamarind, ginger, lemongrass and lime leaves and bring to a boil over moderately high heat. Stir in the coconut milk and bring to a simmer. Add the chicken and fish sauce along with the mushrooms and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through and the mushrooms are tender, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and discard the lime leaves. Stir in the lime juice and chiles. Ladle the soup into bowls, sprinkle with the cilantro and serve.

Chicken in Milk

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I’ve never been a huge fan of Jamie Oliver however when my friend told me that I had to try his Chicken in Milk I whipped it up for a Friday night dinner. It did not disappoint.

Ingredients

1 (3 pound/ 1.5 kilogram) organic chicken
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 ounces (115 grams) or 1 stick butter
1/2 cinnamon stick
1 good handful fresh sage, leaves picked
2 lemons, zested
6 garlic cloves, skin left on
1 pint (565 milliliters) milk

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C/gas 5), and find a snug-fitting pot for the chicken. Season it generously all over with salt and pepper, and fry it in the butter, turning the chicken to get an even color all over, until golden. Remove from the heat, put the chicken on a plate, and throw away the butter left in the pot. This will leave you with tasty sticky goodness at the bottom of the pan, which will give you a lovely caramel flavor later on.
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Put your chicken back in the pot with the rest of the ingredients, and cook in the preheated oven for 1 1/2 hours. Baste with the cooking juice when you remember. The lemon zest will sort of split the milk, making a sauce, which is absolutely fantastic.

To serve, pull the meat off the bones and divide it on to your plates. Spoon over plenty of juice and the little curds. Serve with wilted spinach or greens and some mashed potato

Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/jamie-oliver/chicken-in-milk-recipe/index.html?oc=linkback

Parsnip and Leek Bread Pudding

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I have to give credit where credit is due for this one – thank you Martha Stewart. Made this Thanksgiving 2013. Derm’s dad loves Parsnips. Roast them 20 minutes longer then they say to, the parsnips need a little extra TLC.

  • 1 pound parsnips, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, plus 1 1/2 ounces (3 tablespoons), melted, plus more for dish
  • 2 large leeks, white and pale-green parts only, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced, and rinsed well (about 3 cups)
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 loaf (12 ounces) brioche, crust removed and bread cut into 1-inch cubes

Directions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Drizzle parsnips with oil, and season with salt and pepper. Arrange on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast, shaking occasionally, until caramelized and tender, 23 to 25 minutes. Let cool. Reduce heat to 375.

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Heat 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat in a medium saute pan until melted. Add leeks, and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat; add wine, and return to heat. Let simmer until reduced, 1 minute. Add thyme, and remove from heat. Stir in roasted parsnips.
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Whisk together melted butter, heavy cream, eggs, and 3/4 cup Parmesan in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Add leek-parsnip mixture, then fold in bread. (Mixture can be refrigerated overnight.)

Butter a shallow 2-quart baking dish, and pour parsnip mixture into dish. Cover loosely with parchment, then foil, and bake until golden brown and puffed, 50 minutes. Remove parchment and foil. Sprinkle with remaining cup Parmesan, and return to oven. Bake for 10 minutes more. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.