Saturday, July 28, 2012

Robyn's White Saturn Peach Refresher (Week 31)

This drink looked too pretty and yummy not to share. Robyn's White Saturn Peach Refresher comes from one of my faithful blog followers and long time (and I mean LONG) partners-in-crime, Robyn Nelson.

I'm off to paint my downstairs bathroom this morning so I am looking at this drink as my "carrot at the end of the stick"!

White Saturn Peach Refresher
Muddle basil in with crushed ice. Top with chunks of peaches. Pour in a sweet wine such as a Riesling or a Moscato and serve with a long pick for nibbling the fruit. Savored best on a hot valley day!

Bad Dana....

Ok... I have been painting. I'm hungry for junk food so I made this amazing sandwich with a crusty fried exterior of butter mushed with tortilla chips. Inside, Brie and nectarines!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Golden Nectarine Cake (Week 30)

The girls are coming over for a little happy hour gig at my place tomorrow and, while happy hour food is typically appetizers, I KNOW we MUST have at least one or two sweets on the counter top.

With my crop of peaches, pluots (aka Plumcots), plums and nectarines, I need to clear some space in my fridge so I whipped up a batch of pluot salsa (using green flavor grenade pluots from Mizuno Farms- see Nectarine Mint Salsa from Week 21).   E-Gads...I still have tons of fruit so I have a nectarine cake for dessert.  Thank you Epicurious for the inspiration as well as the sliced photo (I wasn't about to cut in to this with company coming).  Delicious!

 Nectarine Golden Cake

  • 1 c. flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • rounded 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 c. plus 1/2 Tbsp sugar, divided
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract
  • 2 juicy but firm nectarines, pitted and cut in to 1/2 inch thick wedges (you can use peaches as well)
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg

9 inch spring form pan

Preheat oven to 350 with rack in the middle.  Lightly butter the pan.
Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.  Beat butter and 3/4 c. sugar with the electric mixer until pale and fluffy.  add eggs one at a time beating well after each.  Beat in the extracts.  at a low speed add the flour until combined.

Spread batter evenly in the pan then scatter the nectarines over the top.  stir together the nutmeg and the remaining sugar and sprinkle over the top.  Bake the cake until it is golden brown and the top is firm but tender (about 45 minutes).  Cake will rise over the fruit.  Cool in pan for about 10 minutes.  remove sides and cool till warm.  Serve with whipped cream.  It's excellent just by itself .

Friday, July 20, 2012

"It's Chic to be an Agro-Geek" (Week 29)

I confess ..... I am sort of an Agro-Geek. I secretly listen to the Ag report on KMJ (probably because only farmers get up that early in the morning and this is when my clock alarm goes off). I think irrigating is "cool" and I personally know the thrill of a gopher hunt! Why, you may ask? I grew up on 20 acres of Thompson seedless grapes..... On my 15th birthday, my parents kept me home from school to cruise the vineyard and pick up moldy grapes from our freshly soaked raisin trays. My first "paycheck" was for tying vines and my most memorable parental punishment was pulling puncture vines! Come on...... What kid wouldn't love running through an irrigated vineyard row on a hot valley day!

I realize that I am on this blogging quest (with my fresh and local crusade).....I even have a few followers (thank you for traveling with me on my gastro-journey) BUT "food" is chic these days. When I was growing up, food was food and there were no "foodies". I laugh when I read the San Francisco Chronicle and the stories of "city folk" finding the farmers market.....really? Where did. You folks think this stuff came from all these years? Farmers! Even more. Interesting is the legion of urban farmers with their chickens, fresh veggies and such. Hurrah!! It's high time that fertilizer and mealy bugs became acceptable topics at cocktail parties and other social gatherings. God knows that, prior to the food craze, there was plenty of fertilizer being spread around.....just not th e productive sort :-)

For me, today's blog is sort of a editorial as well as a confession. Embrace your Agro-Geek! Feed it plenty of fresh, local produce. Celebrate planting and harvest. Ponder the heavy stuff like integrated pest management and GMOs. But, for heavens sake, eat up!

...and so I confess....I sit here this beautiful sunny morning eating (straight from the bag) Brittany Gold Apricots from Mizuno Farms (thank you Kevin and Greg.....I missed you while I was away). No, I have no recipe to share today. I just sat down with my tea and ate them straight from the bag. Totally fresh and delicious. I am celebrating being Agro-Geek Chic!


Thought to ponder: How did my Mom and Dad (well, probably my Mom) turn my Labrador, Bissou, in to a foodie? He is perhaps the only dog I know that will BEG (seriously....with crying noises and all) for fresh peaches and apricots! He was perfectly calm this morning while I was making my tea but once he saw me half an apricot he went completely nuts.

One summer with Baba and Nono and I can no longer enjoy my stone fruit in peace......... Thanks Mom!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Cha Cha Chilaquiles (Week 29)

Left over chips from my "happy hour" board meeting plus a quick trip to the Farmer's Market at Kaiser and PRESTO - Cha Cha Chilaquiles!  This is a fast and tasty Fresno rendition, complete with farm fresh veggies.
Thanks Mike (Smith Organic Farms for inspiring me with your zucchini dishes this summer!)

Cha Cha Chilaquiles

14 restaurant sized corn tortilla chips
1/2 c. red salsa
4 drops of hot sauce
1 zucchini diced
1/2 c. chopped onions
1 medium sized ear of sweet corn, kernels removed
2 pats of butter
1/4 c. queso fresco crumbled
1/4 c. shredded cheddar
smoked paprika, salt and black pepper to taste

In a saute pan, melt butter and add corn, onions and zucchini.  Saute with salt, pepper and a healthy dash of smoked paprika.  Place chips in a baking pan.  Top with salsa and hot sauce then stir a bit to coat.  Top  this mixture with the corn, onion and zucchini mixture.  Next add the cheeses. Add a few chips for decoration and broil till bubbly and browned.


Monday, July 16, 2012

Home Again....Gigidy Gig - Green Grape Pie and Peach Sangria (Week 29)

Love the beautiful produce and I managed to get up close and personal with the produce when I went out to my parents ranch to irrigate and go on "gopher patrol" with my Dad.  After a few hot and dusty hours on my Dad's mule, my Mom snagged a few bunches of green Thompson seedless grapes.  These grapes, coupled with my shipment from Mizuno Farms, gives us this weeks first entry.  My first upon arriving home back to my beautiful San Joaquin Valley.

Green Grape Pie

  • 4 1/2 c. green seedless grapes
  • 3/4 cups of sugar
  • 1/2 of a lemon, juice only
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 level Tbsp tapioca grains
  • 2 pie crusts
  • 4 pats of butter

Early in the season, Thompson seedless are tart and green like a green apple.  These grapes typically reach their higher and ripe sugar content in late August.  In July, you will find the perfect time to make this pie.  Take the berries off the bunch, wash and place in a large bowl.  With a potato masher, slightly mash the grapes./  Mix in the sugar, cinnamon, lemon, salt and tapioca.  Should be tart and similar to a tart apple pie in flavor.  Press the bottom pie crust in to a greased pie pan.  Turn in the fruit.  Place pat of butter on top of the fruit and seal with the second crust.  Poke holes in the top.  Bake in a preheated oven of 350 for about 45 minute or until bubbling and golden brown.  Very good with vanilla ice cream.

Cherry Peach Sangria

  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1/4 c. brandy
  • 2 1/2 c. Brooks cherries, pitted and halved
  • 1 (750 ml.) bottle of white wine
  • 1 c. chilled club soda
  • 1 peach thinly sliced
  • 3 sprigs of thyme
  • 1 sprig sweet basil

Mix sugar and brandy.  Stir till dissolved.  Add cherries and wine.  Chill for 8+ hours or over night.  Just before serving add remaining ingredients.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Airplane food (Wrap of My Journey - Week 28)

Greetings from Row 89 Seat H.  It is from this cocoon of technology that I am penning the last of my vacation blogs on, believe it or not, airline food.  Everyone knows about airplane food (and the quality.... or lack there off) but this plane ride has a few firsts for this weary traveler:

1. Thanks to the ineptitude of LOT Polish airlines to "get with the program" and the whole meaning of  the "fast track/bag drop off" that is so heavily promoted by Lufthansa Miles and More (apps for both my iPad and my iPhone), I was down one Kotlety (and I am deathly serious about my take- in food). Wojtek was on the 7:30 am flight to the south of Poland and I was leaving on the 6:30 am. Arriving at the airport with more than 2 hours to spare, I actually RAN to my gate and missed out on a relaxed breakfast (plus the extra Kotlety was in Wojtek's bag).

2. Speaking of my sweetie.... He was left in the ticket line for his flight and got only a quick peck on the cheek from over the guard rails (I already was in the boarding cue) when he RAN to my gate to say good bye!

3. The rude (no big surprise) staff at LOT (again) refused to assist with my simple upgrade request (I got the Polish version of "talk to the hand") my seat on the LOT portion of my trip was in a space relegated for a hamster (crammed against the window by a perpetually smiling German man we shall now call "Dancing Bear").  He grinned at me the entire 2 hour flight . He cut quite a figure with his Hello kitty suitcase.

4. The whole wheat roll (part of what the LOT breakfast) was on the table at the Last Supper (even Jesus left it in the basket)..... I am 100% certain.

5. I am open minded when it comes to food but, hey, since when is the German version of a Kit Kat candy bar a suitable breakfast?

6. FRA to SFO in seat 89h is a real treat (hence the need for an upgrade). I am in the very last section of the plane that I know also must be considered the "quiet room" by Lufthansa. Ya know, the "quiet room" is that room at the back of the church where they take all the screaming children! Guess what? It's here at 36,000 feet! I will admit that all of these children could be advertisement models, completely adorable..... But their parents need to learn a few lessons from Katherine and Steve when it comes to corralling their young'uns! 

The Polish couple in front me (another reason I was begging for a new seat assignment) have two adorable, mop head blond boys but NO flipping control (these two kids are feral). Photo was taken while they were "feeding"..... I use the same photo technique at the zoo (animals tend to stay in one spot during supper time).  My "seatmates" (the stylish 30-something Italian couple) were laughing their back sides off.  At one point, Mrs. Gucci passed a neatly wrapped chocolate briscotti my way and Mr. Gucci said "Everything is better with sweets, no?"  I smiled and rummaged through my bag for a Xanax!

The older was standing on his seat before takeoff screaming at the topic his lungs. The younger of the two (about 3) was doing flips over the middle seat, head first, in to Mr. Gucci's lap.  Mrs. Gucci was not amused.....Mama Mia!

After take off the Omen 1 and 2 ran up and down the aisle while both parents slept (probably reserved the kiddie cough syrup for themselves) thus allowing those two terrors to get all the other kids whipped in to a screaming frenzy.

Omen 2 (the younger, louder and cuter of the two) would reach over his Dad's seat (yes, Dad was sitting there with no control of this monster) and turn off my monitor (damn....mid-movie).....this happened three or four times (me, putting on my Mean-Aunt-Dana face saying "NO" in Russian, Polish and English) until I gave up and decided to read my book (on iPad). He slapped my iPad on the way to the bathroom.  His Mom laughed and shot me the "isn't-he-cute" look.  (People.....please parent your children. You have to have a license to have a gun but any fool thinks they can parent)!

My flight was punctuated by the Omen 2 standing on his Dad's seat (Mom bouncing him up and down while holding him beneath his arm pits) and spit the entire contents of his mouth out on me! fish crackers.  Luckily, the Italians had wet wipes! Mommy said "oh...sorry" and shrugged! Idiots shouldn't breed.

For my pain and suffering, I had beef goulash, rice and peas/carrots with a weird pudding ..... Photos included. Makes your mouth water, right? This went VERY well with my French Cabernet (after these little brats, I NEEDED a drink. I'm sure I will be blogging the double martini at SFO).

Big surprise - the food sucked!  It's good to be heading home to the San Joaquin Valley and my FRESH and LOCAL produce :-)

Monday, July 9, 2012

Setting a Polish table (Week 28)

It is now my turn and the tradition for me to make dinner for my in laws and their friends. It's a mix of California cooking with a little Polish flare. Since I am taking a little break from the marinade and reading email (a big hello to my sweet nephew, Piotr, who gave us a nice bottle of raspberry wine that will be wonderful with the cheesecake I picked up from the local bakery!!)...... I am sharing my very cool centerpiece!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Kotlety Mielone (Week 28)

Another of my favorites.... This will be the death of my waist line!! These meat patties are simply delicious and sort of a tradition in our house. They are also my "take out" meal that my mother in law makes when I board the plane to go home. My last trip (sitting
In business luck) I unwrapped one of these puppies and two nicely dressed gentlemen offered to trade (ah hem.... No way. Place food sucks in any class). Then they offered to buy me something nice from Duty Free (I think it was chocolates or something sweet..... I "might" have been tempted if they would have pressed towards the jewelry section !h. Another trip, the "sniffer dog" in Denver caught them but I am nearly certain that his handler ate well that afternoon!

The recipe is rather simple:
500 grams ground meat (Mama uses pork)
1 stale bread roll
1 c. milk
1 white onion chopped fine
1 egg
Bread crumbs
Salt and pepper

I found this wonderful YouTube video which is "right on the money" AND in English. Mama only speaks a few words of English: "You hungry?" ..... Duh! Rather than spend my time typing the instructions, I am sending you to the video. It's perfect. Click here: Big thanks and a shout out to Anna Maria Culiniac at

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Stuffed Cabbage (stuffed Dana - Week 27)

As mentioned in an earlier post, no one cooks like my Mother in Law! These gems are called "Gołamki". She will not part with the recipe (big surprise, eh?) so I found one that appears to be really similar - all ingredients are fresh, local and in season.

12 large cabbage leaves
1 1/8 lbs ground beef
1/8 lb pork sausage or 1/8 lb ground pork
1/2 cup rice, cooked with
1 tbsp. butter (1 cup rice when cooked)
1 eggs
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon sweet basil
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon paprika
1 1/2 tablespoons onions, grated
1 1/2 tablespoons celery, diced
1/4 cup shredded carrots
1/2 cup cabbage, shredded
2 (8 ounce) cans tomato sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar

Cut 12 large leaves of cabbage and cook till limp. Carefully remove from
Water and set aside to cool. Mix meat, rice, egg, milk and seasoning - cook well and cool.

Preheat oven to 350. Take a large leaf and put about a 1/4 cup of the meat mixture in the center and fold in
To a package tucking in the ends very carefully sort of like a burrito. Place seam side down in a baking dish. Mix tomato sauce with sugar and a dash of Maggi (seasoning) then cover rolls with sauce and bake for 45 to 60 minutes.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Roasted Wild Boar and Parmesan Potatoes (Week 27)

Ya gotta love having your sister in the kitchen with you in a foreign country. It was a delight and her screamin' fabulous potatoes were killer and .....GONE. Since Stephanie has left for home at this point, I am asking via the blog for her to post her recipe.

The "Wars Car" (Week 27)

Do you know what a "Wars Car" is?

Pronounced with a
"V" and not a "W", it is part of Polish culture with its cigarette smoke, vodka and sausage. However, when hunger strikes, nothing does the trick like a quick trip to the Wars Car!! Back when Poland was over run with communists, the Wars Car was a symbol of personal freedom, vodka and cigarettes (probably in that order). Today, it was a pleasant respite complete with zurek, pivo (beer) and fresh bread. This was also part of our getaway after dropping my sister off at the airport (our journey to Gdansk).

My offering..... The link to the Wars plus a recipe for Zurek. Totally yummy but I recommend that you consume this on a cold, rather than warm, day. Oh yes..... And my husband packed his own vodka. Isn't he the little smarty!!

Zurek is a bit of a challenge (See of you can buy the instant version at an international deli, throw in some hard boiled eggs and sausage and say "smaczęgo"!