Just logged in quickly and realized it had been a month (plus!) since my last post. Yikes. No excuses and can’t promise it won’t happen again, but c’est la vie, no?

At least the fun hasn’t stopped during my online absence.

And what better welcome back than with a dinner party?

~

Moules Frites at home

This one was a few Saturdays ago – during a particularly busy weekend in San Francisco. It was Fleet Week with the Blue Angels of course, America’s Cup, the 49ers & Giants at home, plus Hardly Strictly Bluegrass in the Park, just to start.

Our good friends Katy, Michael, Alex & Zak came over — and we didn’t realize all that was on the books when we found an open night for all of us.  But the festivities all around seemed to just add to the merriment.

Pate, Crudite and Aioli

Dinner was simple fare, but my favorite kind.  Pâté and rillettes from Fatted Calf, farmer’s market crudité with homemade aioli and a martini or few started the night, and kept us lingering a bit while checking out the game.

Gents and the Giants

Once we moved to the table it was moules frites – with the mussels steamed with white wine, garlic, leeks and fennel and twice-fried fries.  Only hiccup was since I don’t often make fries, I didn’t realize how long they take.  I did the first fry earlier in the day, but even so, they may have been the reason for that extra martini before dinner.  Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Oh, and there was a simple green salad with a bunch of different greens and radicchio, but surprise, it didn’t receive too much attention.

I know we aren’t supposed to try out new things on guests, but let’s face it, I don’t really have fries on a Tuesday with just me and B on the agenda.  At least not at home anyway.

moules frites

Keeping in fall and the vaguely French take on dinner, dessert was tarte tatin.  I prefer mine with a puff pastry crust, but the carmel sauce didn’t get quite as dark as I like and the apples were a smidge soft, if being honest.  I read a post on Smitten Kitchen after the fact that speaks to this exact problem, so I may have to try her route next time.

But with enough wine and espresso and Armagnac come dessert time, who really noticed?

tarte tatin

It was a super fun night, and one I hope to repeat again soon.  And if I get my ducks in a row, I can share it too!

Cook day goodies from the farmer's market

Cook day goodies from the farmer's market

On Sunday, Missy & I took Finn on his first farmer’s market outing.  We seriously stocked up in San Rafael, and then went back to M’s place and had a wonderful afternoon with equal parts cooking and cuddling.  For dinner, Billy joined us and we tried out the Wednesday Chef’s method for pork chops — so good!  Equally good were the Lebanese-style Stuffed Eggplants we had on Monday.

Homemade Apple Butter

In addition to the savory side of things, we made a giant batch of apple butter.  I have loved apple butter since I was a kid, and we would stop (and stock up) at The Apple Farm on the way to visit my aunt in San Luis Obispo.  I hadn’t made it myself before, but now I am a total convert.  SO easy.  We did it in the slow cooker, but the recipe (from Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It) we riffed from just requires the oven and a blender.  Bonus it had a measly amount of sugar — 1/3 cup for 8 pounds of apples!

I have been loving it in the morning on my steel-cut oats, with a smidge of peanut or almond butter too.

What's black, white & red all over?

In the past couple of weeks, I have said good-bye to summery nails and went straight to dark plum for fall.  I am usually not terribly adventurous here, but the french manicure (which I generally loathe) with black tips seemed fun.  A little bit fun but still perfectly safe for me — just basically black and white stripes — and plus, it’s just polish!

Extra flowers from the trunk show

One huge bonus of having parties in my opinion, is the abundance of flowers around the house after.  I usually have a few blooms here and there, but nothing like the flowers perched on every open spot.  Thanks again k o r o v i l a s ladies…it was fun!

hunter.giles

This week also brought (and is bringing) a few family visits.  My cousin Hunter, who lives in New York, was in town for work, and it was such a treat to catch up.  He came over Wednesday night, we made roast chicken & bread salad (surprise!  but there was a chicken in the fridge waiting to be cooked) and some roasted cauliflower.  Hunter is in the music business, so we had some chuckles about my lack of knowledge there, but it was super sun getting band (and book) recs.  Hopefully he will have more trips out here soon.

cate & dad

And this weekend is the USC-Stanford game, so my dad is coming up for the game.  I’m not sure if I will make it to the game, but I am super excited to see him … and sneak in a fun dinner tonight too!

Apologies for these last two pics, but I didn’t snap any while Hunter was over, but had to be sure and show him off —  and for the one of me and pops, yes, it is a few (+) years old, but I don’t have anything current in Cardinal & Gold, and felt it fitting.

Hope you had a great week, and have some fun plans for the weekend too!

xx

Images via my instagram (@caitlindentino), except the last two – Hunter via johngilesphotography.com (and my uncle) and the last one an old snapshot around the house.

Korovilas

Some dear friends from college recently started a clothing line, k o r o v i l a s, and we had a little trunk show at my house on Friday.

It was a great chance to check out fun new up-and-coming designers, try on their fabulous (made in Los Angeles) wares, sip some wine and catch up with friends.

korovilas

Apps at Korovilas Trunk Show

Apps at Korovilas Trunk Show

Since it was a Friday after work, and the focus was all on the dresses, we kept the nibbles super simple … just jazzed up items from the market.  I’ll do a separate post on my favorite fixes to trick out grocery store apps — super easy (and inexpensive) things we can all keep in our arsenal.

Thank you to all you lovies who came out; Maria, Kristina & Katie — love the line; and if their clothes are new to you, I highly recommend checking it out!  www.korovilas.com

xx

Apps at Korovilas Trunk Show

Korovilas-Dresses

Feast with friends

It is no secret that I am super lucky in the fact that my friends like to cook as much as I do.  Not only are meals such a treat, but I love learning their tricks too.

But one of my favorite occurrences is seeing what they choose to serve.  Many of us have the same go-to cookbooks and websites, like those of Heidi Swanson & Yotem Ottolenghi - but we pluck different recipes out of the fold.

Take for instance a gorgeous feast that Maya & Geoffrey put together on Sunday.

Snacks

After a superb cheese & cocktail coarse, we had grilled rib-eyes, grilled peach salad with orange blossom water, salmon (that Jimmy JUST caught) with a pineapple salsa, roast potatoes & broccoli with eggs and gazpacho.  It’s apparent that we weren’t very hungry!

Of {particular} interest here are the salads:  while I love grilled peaches in any form, and often include them in salads, I would have breezed right by the orange blossom dressing.  Now I know my mistake – the combination was floral yet warm and totally intoxicating.  Maya & Ottolenghi are a very good combination!

Grilled Peach Salad with Orange Blossom Water

Roast Potatoes and Broccoli Gribiche

And the roast potatoes & broccoli with egg from Super Natural Everday, also known as Roasted Potatoes & Broccoli Gribiche – a new favorite.  I have been smitten with the idea of gribiche since I read about it on Orangette eons ago, and have in fact made it to serve with salmon and potatoes, but this combo was particularly great.

Until the next dinner at a friends, perhaps I’ll just have them flag my cookbooks…or I guess, that is what pinterest is for! :)

images via my iphone & instagram feed (@caitlindentino)

Cavatappi with Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Cannellini Beans & Kale

I don’t necessarily crave pasta — when I make it, particularly on a weeknight, it generally more of a convenience, and also code for there isn’t much else in the house.

This recipe I first saw on Amateur Gourmet, who gleaned it from Lidia Bastianich’s cooking show, and has been in his rotation for years – a go to weeknight dinner.  His version doesn’t call for kale, which also means it can be made straight from the pantry.  Pasta, beans, sun-dried tomatoes, red pepper flakes, garlic – that’s it.

I have made it before that way, but always felt it could use a little something.  Last night I happened to have a bunch of kale on hand (and not much else) so it was the perfect addition to a recipe that relied on little else fresh.

I think the dark greens are key, in fact I replace about ½ the pasta in the recipe with the greens (and could’ve added more if I had more).  They add interest in taste and texture, and add some nice color (and nutrients) to the mix.  I add the chopped kale with the sun-dried tomatoes, but think other hearty greens or broccoli rabe would work equally well.

What are your favorite pantry pastas?

Sun-dried tomatoes, kale & garlic

Sun-dried tomatoes, kale & garlic -- with white beans

images via my instagram feed (@caitlindentino)

Kale, Apple & Persimmon Salad

What do you think about fruit in salad?  Not fruit salad – but green salads with fruit in the mix.  I happen to love it and the combo shows up on our table often.

In the summer, peaches, nectarines and blueberries are some of my favorites; in the fall, apples and pears of course.  For winter, persimmons and pomegranate seeds are a nice touch, and come spring I can’t wait to add red strawberries to the mix.  And of course, a little complimenting cheese doesn’t hurt.

Here are a few fruit & salad combos from past posts:

Summer BBQ dinner

Spinach with peaches, blueberries and ricotta from a Summer Grilling dinner.

Kale & Persimmon Salad with Cumin-Lime Vinaigrette

Shredded kale with apples and persimmons (with beer braised turkey tacos).

Quinoa and beet salad

Butter lettuce with quinoa, roasted beets and blood oranges.

Turkey Chili, Firecracker Cornbread & Raw Kale Salad

Raw kale salad with grated pear, parmigiano, toasted breadcrumbs and a lemon vinaigrette (with weeknight turkey chili).

weeknight dinner

Spinach with apples and blue cheese (and weeknight turkey burgers).

persimmon-and-pomegranate-salad

Super quick holiday salad with spinach, persimmons and pomegranate seeds.

And the fruit is equally at home in grain salads …

wheatberrysalad

like this wheatberry salad with beets, carrots, apples and cranberries.

What are your favorite fruits for salad (not counting the obvious veg-seeming-ones like tomatoes and avocado)?  Or do you keep it separate and stick to vegetables for the add-ins?

Summer Reading List

Do you get any extra reading done in the summer?  I must admit that my summer had fewer books than I would have liked … maybe it was because there weren’t many long vacations, just lots of short getaways.  Long trips (with long flights) usually help the count.

I am a sucker for spy novels, so when the new Daniel Silva book in the Gabriel Allon series, Falling Angel,  came out, it was devoured immediately.  I also got in a few trilogys – some to remain nameless (and terribly written, by the way) – and a late entry to the Hunger Games, which I did totally enjoy.

Just read Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, with just about everyone else it seems, and really enjoyed it.  I had no clue what I was in for — just a recommendation from a friend — and was hooked. Another one that sucked me in, where again I was going on nothing but a friendly recommendation, was The Leftovers by Tom Perotta.  It seems to have received a lot of traction last year, so I was late to the game, but thankfully good books don’t age.

Have you heard of Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick?  I hadn’t and currently cannot put it down.  Surprise, surprise, a friend recommended it and I am in so deep.  I am fascinated and awed by the strength of the people, and cannot recommend this book highly enough!

But to round out a true summer reading list, perfect for one last trip to the beach, is Apron Anxiety.  I first followed the author Alyssa Shelasky through her blog, and bought the book as soon as it was published.  It follows love and loss, by way of the kitchen (with recipes too) — which, as we know, makes it perfectly at home with me.

Any books you read this summer that you couldn’t put down?  Any recommendations that you haven’t gotten to yet, but are hoping to tuck into come fall?  Send ‘em my way — suggestions from friends are obviously my favorite!

Alphabetized Spices

Alphabetized Spices

How do you like to organize things?  If it has an alphabetical option, I will take it. Spices, DVDs, anything really.  Although I stopped at books, because it looked terrible and I am not running a library … plus I don’t need to access them on the quick (that is what the Kindle is for).

But I when I found myself reorganizing a friend’s spice drawer on Friday (took me too long to find the chili flakes) I realized perhaps I had gone too far.  What is worse is I asked if I could come back and tackle the pantry.

Anyone else OCD on the ABCs?

Alphabetized Spices

America's Cup in the early morning

For months, I would met a friend for an early morning walk – sometimes through the marina and Chrissy field, sometimes up the hills – taking in the views, catching up and getting our heart rate up all while we used to sleep.  Unfortunately job and schedule changes put it on hiatus for a bit, so I am so excited to have this back in my routine (albeit with a different, but equally lovely friend).  I snapped this pic yesterday as they were setting up for America’s Cup World Series here in SF– should be quite a show!

My take on Captain Mike's tartine

I have made no secret for my love of Captain Mike’s smoked fish and the tartines they have at the Ferry Building farmer’s market.  But for weekends when I can’t make it down there, this homemade version isn’t too bad.

Everlane delivery

Thanks to Cup of Jo, I have fallen deep in the Everlane trap.  Perfectly soft and luxurious Ts for a song … I haven’t stopped wearing them since my package arrived earlier in the week.  In fact, I ran into Caitlin Flemming (from Sacramento Street) last night  and the first thing she said (after “hello” obviously) was “Is that Everlane!?!”

Out the Door

Sometimes San Francisco can seem like a delighfully small town – running into friends at every turn.  Not sure if it has do with living here a bit longer now and getting my bearings, or just the gods were in my favor last night — I was in fact wearing lipstick rather than gym clothes … so there’s my answer.  But it was such a treat to run into friends both old and new.  And that it happened at a favorite spot while dining with one of my favorite peeps, all the better!

Flowers for the host

Sunday night was family dinner at Catie’s and since she had the meal taken care of (expertly, might I add), I thought it would be fun to bring her some flowers.  I am loving the cone hydrangeas… I should’ve picked up a second arrangement for myself!

Lunch at Cotogna

Cotogna is for sure one of my most loved spots in the city, and particularly excited to have lunch there today.  This pic is from a few weeks ago, but I hope the squash blossoms are still on the menu, as I think I may need to sample them at least once more before summer ends.  But as good as the lunch will be, excited for the company … it has been much too long since I will have seen this dear friend!

Hope you had some lovely little things to enjoy this past week — and lots of excitement (or relaxation or both!) for the weekend.  My grandfather is visiting, which is such a treat, I am so excited to wander through the streets with him.  What are your plans?

xx

chili night

While many of you may be enjoying {or hiding from} the dog days of summer, our cold grey San Francisco summer has arrived full bore, calling for parkas on the way to morning coffee.  But since we have had a pretty nice summer with plenty of days for seasonally-appropraite meals, I will do my best not to complain.  Plus, weather talk is boring.

I only bring it up to set the stage for chili dinner in August.

A big pot of giant black beans were already simmering on the stove when I decided that chili was in order.  I didn’t use a recipe, just a hodge-podge of versions I like, plus what I had on hand, plus what sounded good.  I wanted something like mom’s version growing up – maybe not authentic in Texas – but a kind that hits the spot.  Ground meat, or turkey generally in my case, beans, tomatoes and lots of spices.  Instead of stock for extra liquid, in addition to tomato sauce, I added a bottle of beer.  Once it simmered together, it became exactly what I was looking for.

We topped it with a bit of white cheddar, greek yogurt and green onion.  On the side, 101 Cookbook’s Firecraker Cornbread cooked in a cast iron skillet and a raw kale salad flecked with grated pear brought it all together.

I’m not going to lie, this little dinner got me pretty excited for Fall!

Turkey Chili, Firecracker Cornbread & Raw Kale Salad

Chili Toppings

Chili & Cornbread

Are you holding on to summer or ready for what’s next?  
I can’t decide, which I guess works with the Indian Summer/foggy day combo we have coming.

ABOUT

Martha Stewart I am not -
I have no intention of
whittling my own table
and can handle a martini
like nobody's business -
but I do have lots of
great ideas on cooking,
entertaining, and living
that I want to share with you.

Together, perhaps we can find
ways to have a bit more fun!

Contact:
info{at}caitlindentino{dot}com

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