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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!

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)

Girls-Night Dinner at home

On Saturday, I went to a beautiful baby shower for Brooke, a dear friend from college who also happens to live in San Francisco.  Since a few friends would be coming in from out of town for the festivities, plus the local ladies, we figured it was the perfect opportunity for a girls night on Friday…which we opted to make a girls night in.

It was a weeknight, plus just good practice, so I kept things super easy – and called in back-up for apps and dessert.  Tessa picked up pâté and other goodies from Fatted Calf and made great {and super simple} date, goat cheese and proscuitto bites.

Panzanella

Zucchini & Rice and Panzanella

Spicy Roast Chicken

I went for a version of something that has popped up on our table all summer — spicy spatchcocked chicken with salsa verde and heirloom panzanella.  But to ‘catch’ the wine that was likely to be accompanying dinner, we needed something else warm (plus – it was chilly come Friday evening) and a bit hearty too.

Earlier in the week, in honor of Julia Child’s what-would-be 100th birthday, I spied a zucchini tian on Food 52 that seemed perfect.  Two of the ladies are gluten-free, so the rice component was ideal (no fear – they had a separate, and equally delicious panzanella).  And since it was primarily zucchini, even the liquid added for the rice to cook was drained zucchini juice, it was also much lighter and healthier than it seemed.

Girls-Night

Girls-Night Dinner at home

Dessert was truthfully more wine, plus a summer favorite of grilled peaches and vanilla ice cream.  We topped it with a little dusting of coconut sugar and smoked salt for fun, but it needs nothing else.  I just can’t help adding some flaky salt to dessert.

Such a fun evening catching up with old friends…nights like these are the reason I like to cook!

Grilled Peaches

For the recipe for the zucchini & rice dish

Read the rest of this entry »

Living-Greens-Juice

I have long held that I have no interest in liquid calories minus alcohol.  Only partly kidding, but sodas and juices have never really been my bag.

However, in the past few years, as vegetable juices have turned {more} mainstream, they are the one place I make exception.  Green juice in the morning is one of my favorite things!

So when this weekend’s dinner included dear friends Michelle and Bryan, who happen to be the lovely owners of local fave Living Greens, I couldn’t hide my excitement when they brought a few flavors for us.  We broke into two to sample as a group after dinner – Mahalopeño {pineapple, kale, cucumber, jalapeño} and C Booster {carrot, apple, lemon, ginger}. Sooo good  - even the veg-shy Mr. is a giant fan!

Plus, I think they helped stave off the effects of perhaps too much wine. And the bonus of a Coconut Smoothie {fresh young coconut water blended with coconut meat} in the fridge for morning helped any lingering ailments.

If you are in SF, I highly recommend checking them out!  And regardless of where you are, it’s time to add juice to the menu.

Pizza, Pizza!

I have a long standing love affair with pizza — good pizzeria style, thin and blistery but a bit chewy being my favorite, with a close second coming to those made at home.  Now, without a wood burning oven, mine don’t always match the perfection of the professionals, but the fun of it all makes them seem almost better.

So it seemed obvious that we would have a little pizza party while at the beach.  Always on the look out for a good at-home crust, I have finally settled on one that I keep coming back to – the crust from Mozza as featured in Saveur.  They did a great write up, with tips as well as the recipe.  Bonus that you get 4 pies out of one recipe, which is perfect for a group!

Although, I have been reading quite a bit about Jim Lahey’s no-knead pizza crust which I may have to sample, but it does require a 18 hour lead time. So basically, there is a good chance of more pizza posts in the future…

Burrata Pizza

pizza toppings

As for toppings, I think it is fun to mix it up.  Here is what we did:

  • Fresh tomato sauce {San Marzano, of course} with Burrata and Basil
  • Brussels Sprouts (shaved and whole leaves) with Lardons and Mozzarella (no sauce, just garlic and chili infused olive oil as a base)
  • Spicy Sausage with Sautéed Mushrooms and Mozzarella and Pecorino
  • Pepperoni with  Roasted Tomatoes and Mozzarella

We bypassed my usual favorite of broccoli rabe with oil-cured olives and I must say, I LOVED the brussels sprout and lardon combo.  So good!

Pizza party

Cheers

What are your favorites for pizza night?

Sunset on the Bay

This past weekend, in a attempt to get some warmth and sunshine, we had plans to head south to the beach with some friends.  However the rain that poured down on all of California derailed the sunshine bit, so we were ‘forced’ to stay inside and cook.  And boy did we ever!

It was a weekend with lots of leisurely time in the kitchen, and long stretches at the table — engrossed in good conversation with plenty of food and wine.  It was such a treat that I can now (3 days later) face the fact that it is over and download a few pictures.  I was planning to put them all together, but there is so much goodness, I may space it out a bit, if you don’t mind…

Martinis upon arrival

And for the good part, Friday night’s menu:

Pimento Cheese (with homemade mayo) with radishes and celery
Panko Crusted Sole with lemon and tartar sauce
Roasted Potato Wedges
Coleslaw with a bit of blue cheese
Roasted Carrots

and, of course

Vanilla and Banana Ice Cream with Salted Caramel and Peanuts

FishFry

Pimento Cheese

Fish Fry

And the decadence just continued from there …

Levi San Francisco

I’m not gonna a lie.  I have a fun set of friends – store owners, vintage e-tailers, fashion designers, farmers, and those are just the ones that I can ‘link’ to…

So when I recently got invited to a blogger event for Levi by mi amiga, I coudn’t pass it up.  Cute retro snacks and a pair of jeans. Sign me up. (Just hoping no one called me out and realized there is a lot of talk of food round these parts – let’s flag this under the ‘friends’ and ‘surprises.’)

homemade nutter-butters, snoballs & champy

So, as you may know, Levi just launched a new style of jeans based on porportion, not size, called Curve ID.

What you may not know is that since I snagged this pair 2? 3? weeks ago, all other jeans have sat in a lonely heap in my closet.

Levi - Curve ID

These suckers really fit.

Levi's Newest Fit -  The Curve ID

So that is it.  I like my Levi’s and love my friends.  Hope you have both jeans & friends you love … cuz without those things, Thursdays (and any days really) can be rough.

xx

Cate'sDinner

I did not cook what you see here.  I wish I did.  Because it was damn good.

This past weekend Catie and Jimmy had a few friends over for a little end of summer dinner.  And to say we feasted on summer’s finest would be an understatment.

Genevieve's-Fresh-Tomato-Sauce

It was one of those lovely dinners that just happened, with everyone helping to get things done, but nothing was so difficult that it required a recipe or couldn’t be made with vino in hand.

Catie and Genevieve brought out all the stops. Fresh tomato sauce made with local heirloom tomatoes and finished with basil and parmigiana served over fresh whole wheat linguine from the farmer’s market. Heaven.

Butter, Olive Oil, Shallots and Peppers

Read the rest of this entry »

veggie burger

Do you prefer cooking solo or with a group?  Just you and a recipe/hungry stomach/desire to make something? Or maybe you have it down to a science with your roommate/friend/spouse, etc?

If you are anything like me – I’ll take it all.  I enjoy cooking alone, the rhythm of chopping and mixing, stirring, tweaking and tasting, and with some good tunes and a glass of vino, it is (obviously) one of my favorite things to do.  But I also really like cooking with family and friends – getting things together for dinner or a little party, each person takes something on and the work (and clean up) is done in a fraction of the time. And it’s fun too boot.

But things can get a bit wonky when too many people are working on the same thing.

Making-Ultimate-Sprouted-Veggie-Burgers
Or at least they can where I come from.

Take these Ultimate Veggie Burgers from Heidi Swanson’s 101 cookbooks.  Seriously, click on the link – the picture you will see there is nothing like the one up top.  And that my friends is due to too many cooks in the kitchen.

It started with the best intentions.

Read the rest of this entry »

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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