Monday, May 25, 2009

Artichoke Pizza & Red Pepper Corn Pizza (vegan)

I had another fab evening cooking in SF with my friend, C. I met C. at one of my Millennium cooking classes and we have had many a good old time cooking and eating vegan food, both at the classes and outside. Above, C. put together a lovely little appetizer plate of roasted baby beets, roasted red peppers, olives, and sliced baby artichokes cooked with capers, meyer lemon and olive oil.

Due to my bounty of baby artichokes, we made this hearty Artichoke Pizza with a cashew-cream white sauce with garlic, capers, and white wine. The rich sauce was topped with chopped tomatoes, artichokes that were sauteed with lemon olive oil, garlic, white wine, and a light dusting of flour, and julienned basil:

This was the appetite pleaser without the heaviness.

This much lighter pizza was made with a roasted red pepper sauce (2 roasted red peppers, processed with a large spring onion), uncooked corn kernels, chopped tomatoes, and a cashew cream-cilantro sauce (cashew cream, cilantro, olive oil, fresh jalapeno, lemon juice) that was added after cooking:

I loved the fresh tastes of this pizza and it was an excellent light partner to the creamy Artichoke Pizza. The cilantro sauce gave the freshness a nice zip!

I'm thinking maybe red pepper soup for dinner!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Baby Artichokes with Garlic Breadcrumbs

Today I was gifted with baby artichokes. The very small baby artichokes are cool because the choke has not yet developed, so there's less waste. This simple vegan recipe combined trimmed artichokes with garlic, lemon, olive oil and white wine with a topping of whole wheat garlic breadcrumbs. For a non-vegan version, some crumbled goat cheese would make an excellent addition.

Baby Artichokes with Garlic Breadcrumbs
5 small baby artichokes
water with lemon juice and salt
2-2.5 TBS olive oil
sea salt (I used fFleur de Sel)
juice of 1/2 meyer lemon
4 small cloves garlic, minced
3 TBS white wine (I used Pinot Grigio)
1 slice whole wheat bread, crust removed

First trim the artichokes: remove the outer bottom leaves, remove the stalk and cut off the top 1/2" of leaves. Remove any lower leaf tips with kitchen scissors. Cut artichokes into quarters lengthwise. Place the cut artichokes immediately into a saucepan with cold water with lemon juice (to avoid discoloration) and salt. Place saucepan on the stove and bring water to a boil. Boil until artichokes are just tender (about 5 minutes). Drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking.

Heat 1-2 TBS olive oil in a saute pan and cook 2 small minced garlic cloves with a pinch of sea salt until just starting to brown. Add the drained artichokes and saute quickly over medium hot heat for a couple of minutes. Add the white wine and cook until evaporated. Remove from heat and toss with lemon juice and another pinch of salt. Place in an oven proof dish.

Turn on the broiler.
Break the bread into small pieces and process along with two small garlic cloves to fine breadcrumbs. Heat a little olive oil in a saute pan and toast the breadcrumbs until light brown.

Top the artichokes with breadcrumbs (add crumbled goat cheese at this point, if using). Place on lower shelf of oven and broil until lightly browned.

Serve immediately!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Caesar Potato Salad with Sugar Snap Peas

This recipe for a Caesar Potato Salad with Sugar Snap Peas and Radish comes from the June issue of Bon Appetit. I was inspired by the colorful photograph of this salad and the fact that I would never have come up with this recipe by myself.

Steamed small potatoes, snap peas and raw radish with a little red onion are dressed with a mustard-lemon juice vinaigrette. The recipe says to blend grated Parmesan into the dressing, but I added it afterwards with grainy sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

The potatoes (I used baby red potatoes and little Yukon creamers) are cut into 1/2 inch slices, then steamed for about 10 minutes. They came out absolutely perfectly! I can't wait to try my beloved recipe for French Potato Salad with White Wine with pre-cut, steamed potatoes.

I think this recipe would be an original crowd pleaser for a Memorial Day party! Check it out!

Thursday, May 07, 2009

the girl & the fig

For the last day of university friend A's visit, we took the short drive to Sonoma to have lunch at the girl & the fig in the Sonoma Hotel, right on the corner of the main square.

The restaurant was small and packed when we arrived for a late brunch. We liked the brown paper table covers, stamped with the restaurant's name, that covered the tablecloths, the green fabric-covered bench seating and all the natural light from the windows, but we found the artwork distracted from the quaintness, both in style and quantity.

We both started with the soup de jour, a mild and delicious parsnip soup made with roasted parsnips and onions, garnished with green garlic olive oil and chive flowers:

I followed with the pea pancakes, served with shaved carrots and an amazing carrot-ginger beurre blanc:

The pancakes were packed with fresh peas and the this dish had a wonderful spring freshness to it, both in taste and presentation. I thought it was really unique and inventive and look forward to trying my hand at the beurre blanc!

We had an exceptional meal here and well worth a drive to Sonoma. I look forward to trying their food again.

We took a stroll around the main square and happily noted a chocolate tasting sign. We discovered Wine Country Chocolates, where we tasted both apricot and cabernet ganache. We couldn't resist a small and pretty selection that included The Elvis (peanut butter), Green Tea with Lemon Honey, and Orange Grand Marnier:

Friday, May 01, 2009


Millennium is my favorite restaurant.
Executive Chef Eric Tucker is both a great teacher of vegan cooking skills and also the mastermind behind the most sublime vegan dishes, their complex flavors are hard to describe.

Last night, I took my dear friend A. to Millennium. A. is a friend from my university days, visiting California from England for the first time. She's not a vegetarian, and self-describes as a gal who likes a nice steak. She was blown away by the satisfying vegan food. And, honestly, so was I. Seems like everytime I go to Millennium, the food just keeps getting more amazing.

We sat at the bar, which was a great experience, thanks to the very friendly and well-informed bartenders, Kyle and Leo. Kyle recommended the excellent McDowell Valley Grenache. A. looked up Millennium in her Time Out San Francisco and they were described as having one of the best organic Wine Lists in the U.S.

Above, Tempura Snow Peas & Spring Onion with cucumber and citrus ponzu sauce from the fixed-price menu - fresh, light, and the sauce was perfection.

Below, slightly blurry version of the Indian Spiced Red Belgian Endive & Avocado Salad with chiogga beet, mint, cilantro, grapefruit with a rhubarb & cucumber chutney and a creamy coconut-curry leaf vinaigrette. I'm not an endive fan, but this was amazing - gotta get that chutney in every mouthfull:

Green Garlic Risotto Cakes with wilted mustard greens, grilled oyster mushrooms, green olive vinaigrette and crisp fried fava beans:

The eternal deep fried oyster mushrooms:

Wicked Potato & Butter Bean Enchiladas with ranchero sauce, corn tortillas, morel mushrooms, smoked onion & pasilla negro cream with a strawberry-cabbage slaw (this was such an incredible dish, again from the Fixed Price Menu I'll be petitioning to make this in a future class):

A delicious Indian flavored dish of Teff Crepes with an asparagus and lemon tofu filling, ginger & mustard seed coconut cream, South Indian red lentil dal (perfect!) and agretti:

Housemade Fazzoletti with English pea and caramelized onion filling, roasted fennel and fiddlehead ferns, maitake and King trumpet mushroom sugo, meyer lemon "cream", pinenut gremolata and truffle oil:

Aren't you just amazed by the menu descriptions of these dishes? These dishes are creative and complex and an experience to eat.

A. ended with an a drink, aptly described as Nocturne, organic vodka, espresso, chocoate ganache, chilled straight up: