Grilled Apricot and Ricotta Tartine

Grilled Apricot and Ricotta TartineGroundhog Day
Until yesterday, I had no clue that this weekend is Memorial Day Weekend. Let’s be real. I even struggled to try to remember that it was Wednesday today. Every day feels like the same day on repeat. It is, in fact, groundhog day. I don’t really feel there is much of a difference between Tuesday and Saturday and I am pretty sure I am not the only one.

So, Memorial Day…

Theoretically, it is the unofficial beginning of Summer. Any other year we’d be packing for a tournament and figuring what to throw on the grill when we got home. This year? *Sigh*

I’m sure you all will forgive me for my lack of enthusiasm. It’s becoming harder and harder to be excited about what I am making for dinner. Call it culinary lethargy. But there is light at the end of the tunnel. Just as some restrictions are slowly being lifted around the state, stone fruits are starting to make their appearance in the produce department. Hurray!

Yep, the arrival of cherries, apricots, and early peaches and nectarines are just the thing to get me excited again. In fact, these two recipes got my mouth-watering to the point of embarrassment just by looking at them. Grilled Apricots with Burrata, Country Ham and Arugula can also be made with plums, peaches, and pears (depending on the season). And our recipe for Grilled Apricot and Ricotta Tartine is the bomb.

From there it was not hard to picture snacking on either while enjoying this weekend’s warm weather on my back patio, cold beverage in hand…Voila!

Memorial Day Weekend saved!

Grilled Apricot and Ricotta Tartine Recipe 

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Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

Pumpkin Whoopie PiesPumpkin Perspective
Halloween is here and I am just not feeling the Halloween spirit. I’m thinking that it’s because our priorities are focused elsewhere this week. Maybe it’s because most of the Bay Area is worried about having power or, worse if their house is still standing. It’s probably more important to have candles to see at night versus candles to put in your pumpkin. I’m just sayin’.

It is kind of a bummer, though. I actually had plans to make fun treats and dress up like I usually do. But, I no longer have the will nor the energy. This past weekend wore me down mentally. At one point there was fire 4 miles to the south of me and fire 3 miles to the west of me with air tankers overhead. With those ridiculous winds, you just didn’t know where it was going to pop up next. It’s the unpredictability that drives you nuts. Thankfully, my home was not threatened but I got a tiny taste of what they are going through in Healdsburg and the surrounding areas. My heart goes out to everyone. I can’t even imagine the stress and heartbreak…

I may still try to make the Whoopie Pies that I had planned on because, you know, stress eating. Whoopie Pies, I have been told, are an East Coast thing. I love them—though I couldn’t tell you where I was the first time I tried one. The traditional version features a chocolatey cakey cookie that is filled with vanilla-flavored cream. Kinda like a giant, soft Oreo. The recipe I was planning to make for Halloween have pumpkin cakes with a cream cheese filling. Anything with cream cheese filling is a winner in my book. And, I have made these before and I know how good they taste.

Here’s hoping conditions improve and the fires can be put out quickly. In the meantime, if you have the will and you have the power, give these treats a go. I am fairly confident they will improve anyone’s mood.

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies
Adapted from King Arthur Flour
Yields 1 dozen 4-inch Whoopie Pies Read more…

Pork Rillettes

Pork RillettesBeach Bites
Hitting the beach in the summer is awesome…the sun…the surf. There is nothing better than kicking back at the beach and relaxing. And, you’ll need it because as great as a day at the beach can be, the schlepping of all of the stuff you need is not.

I admire those people who can throw everything they need for a day at the beach into a cinch-sac and head out the door. I am not one of those people. I would like to be—but I am not. I require a chair and an umbrella at a minimum. And, of course, a cooler full of tasty food and refreshing drinks.

Of all the things you need for a day at the beach, I think the food it the hardest because it actually takes some preplanning. Because we head to the beach every summer when we go to Tahoe, my sister and I are now a well-oiled machine when it comes to packing lunch for 10 of us. But, you better be okay with a sandwich and some chips for lunch. That is just our routine at Tahoe.

Before we got married and even for some time after, my husband and I used to spend our weekends sailing the bay either on our own or with friends. Our favorite place to stop for lunch was on Angel Island and I always tried to pack something good to eat. Sometimes we hiked around to the south side and ate on the beach there. (We did that once for Fleet Week. The Blue Angels flew right over our heads. It was fantastic.) More often than not though we would find an empty picnic table or sometimes just eat on the boat. It goes without saying that whatever we brought had to be compact. The sailboat wasn’t that big. And, if you had to haul your lunch around an island, you didn’t want to bring a big heavy cooler. So I got good at making what I call snacky lunches.

Snacky lunches are basically picnics made up of a bunch different things that when you choose a little of this and a little of that make up a rather lovely lunch. They usually consisted of a fresh baguette, a variety of cheeses, assorted charcuterie, cut veggies, some dips or spreads, fruit, and something bite-size and decadent for dessert. Sometimes, if we had a bigger group I would add on an orzo or tomato salad.

Occasionally I would make Rillettes because it is the perfect picnic food. You can spread it on a fresh baguette or crackers and you store it in a mason jar for easy transport. If you are planning on hitting the beach in the near future, give this a try…

Pork Rillettes
Yields about 5 cups Read more…

Gam’s Egg Salad Sandwiches

Gam’s Egg Salad Sandwiches‘Wichcraft
Where would we be without the sandwich? There is nothing more simple to pull together for a meal than the sandwich. Sandwiches in some way shape or form are the most consumed lunch dish around the world. I know in my house, life as we know it would come to a screeching halt if there were no way to make a sandwich for lunch.

Now, some people have different ideas about what constitutes a sandwich. The most basic definition is meat between two slices of bread. By that standard, a cheeseburger is a sandwich. Umm..no. A burger is a burger and in a class unto itself. Same with a hot dog.  A legitimate sandwich, in my world, does, in fact, start with two slices of bread but what goes in between those two slices can be a varied wonderland of possibilities.

I have made it my goal as a parent to make sure that my kids know how to make a serious sandwich. Turkey on white bread with a little mayo, while tasty, is woefully lacking in creativity and style. Take that same turkey, add a little cranberry sauce or even a lovely chutney with crispy lettuce and a slice of Havarti on crusty sourdough and now we’re talking… bonus points for using the dill Havarti.

One of my sons has become a master of the monster sandwich. This work of art consists of multiple slices of every possible deli meat I have in the fridge, mayo, cheese, tomato, avocado, and lettuce on a fresh roll the size of a Volkswagen. (He’s 14. He’ll burn it off in an hour…) His creativity more than makes up for his lack of restraint. If the meat choices lend themselves to an Italian feel, he will go with a little oil & vinegar just to spice things up. This feast is then washed down with an entire gallon of milk! But, that’s a discussion for another time…

Then there is my other son. Sigh. He’s my bologna, bread and mustard kid. He could eat the same thing day after day and not get tired of it. Zzzzzzzz…On the positive side, I have managed to get him to prefer eating the good wheat bread and the really good German bologna instead of the other scary stuff. So, at least he is eating actual food while sits there set in his ways. The struggle is real my friends…

There is one simple sandwich that we all love. And, if you mess with the recipe in any way there will be riots in the street…or perhaps just in our house. I have been making egg salad ever since my grandmother showed me how she made it when I was eight years old. It’s a classic. Though, there aren’t too many people packing in it their lunchboxes.

The simple recipe consists of hard boiled eggs, mayo, dry mustard, and a little salt. That’s it. The egg salad is then spread on wheat bread and only wheat bread with absolutely nothing else. Lettuce need not apply. This is the sandwich that the kids usually take to school on the first day much to the befuddlement of their friends. If I happen to have hard boiled eggs in the fridge, this is always how they will end up.

If you are a fellow sandwich worshiper, I recommend giving this classic a try just as a nice change of pace. Feel free to adjust as you see fit…

Gam’s Egg Salad
Yields enough egg salad to make 3 or 4 sandwiches depending upon the size of the bread. Read more…