Category Archives: Food

italian bread salad

I love to use burrata on my bread salad!

I love to use burrata on my Italian bread salad!

Italian bread salad or Panzanella is one of my favorite dishes to create during the summer because it showcases one of the best fruits of the season, the tomato. You can make it even better by adding fresh burrata cheese and balsamic glaze. I found a Barolo syrup infused with truffle and it’s amazing on this salad! One thing I find is that if you mix the salad prior to adding the bread, the salt will draw some of the water out of the tomatoes. This adds great flavor and moisture to the bread.

3 cups sourdough bread cut into 1 inch cubes
Fresh burrata cheese
2 medium heirloom tomatos
8 basil leaves chopped
1/4 cup red onion thinly sliced
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Place the cubed bread onto a baking sheet and cook at 400° F tossing every few minutes until evenly browned. Meanwhile cut the tomatoes into a large dice and thinly slice onion. Toss all ingredients in a salad bowl. Finally, add bread and toss. Top with Burrata and enjoy the best Italian bread salad.


hall wines cabernet cookoff


I recently had a great opportunity to attend the Hall Wines Cabernet Cookoff this past May! So, we packed our bags and headed up to Napa to drink Hall cabernet and sauv blanc while sampling food from Napa as well as surrounding Bay Area chefs. The competition is held annually at Hall Wines’ gorgeous art laden location and raises money for a variety of local charities chosen by the restaurants and caterers who compete. Next time you are in the area, I highly recommend checking out Halls growing art collection. Very cool stuff!

Burkshire pork belly from Meadowood of Napa Valley,  roasted eggplant "schwarma" Culinary Mercianry, and smoked pork cheek by Earth's Bounty Kitchen & Winebar.

Burkshire Pork Belly from Meadowood of Napa Valley, Roasted Eggplant “Schwarma” Culinary Mercianry, and Smoked Pork Cheek by Earth’s Bounty Kitchen & Winebar.

One of my favorite entries was by Chef Nenad Stefanovic from Intercontinental Mark Hopkins. Although it should have been served with a knife, I loved the idea of combining herbs and brûlée with spring lamb!

One of my favorite entries was by Chef Nenad Stefanovic from Intercontinental Mark Hopkins. Although it should have been served with a knife, I loved the idea of combining herbs and brûlée with spring lamb! I’m stealing this!

The crowd favorite - Executive Chef Daniel Capra of Paula LeDuc's crispy oxtail tacos. Hot day + cold wine + oxtail tacos = perfect day!

The crowd favorite – Executive Chef Daniel Capra of Paula LeDuc’s Crispy Oxtail Tacos. Hot day + cold wine + oxtail tacos = perfect day!

One Market Restaurant's killer Potato Gnocchi, The Farmers Market Pantry's Brisket with Slaw Slider, Ca' Momi's Porchetta e Rucola Pizza and Oenotri's Wild Boar Scottadito.

One Market Restaurant’s killer Potato Gnocchi, The Farmers Market Pantry’s Brisket with Slaw Slider, Ca’ Momi’s Porchetta e Rucola Pizza and Oenotri’s Wild Boar Scottadito.

Chef Daniel Capra said it best, "When you are doing an event such as this for charity, everyone's a winner!"

Chef Daniel Capra said it best, “When you are doing an event such as this for charity, everyone’s a winner!”

For more information about the Hall Wines Cabernet Cookoff click here.

Hall Wines
401 St Helena Hwy
St Helena, CA 94574

kumquat and pasilla pepper marmalade

Kumquat marmalade on sourdough toast.

Kumquat and pasilla pepper marmalade on sourdough toast.

It’s that time of spring when kumquats arrive in abundance. When a friend of mine announced on Facebook that her tree was bursting with fruit, I jumped at the chance to make something yummy from them. I decided to try to make a marmalade and give it a slight twist by adding  pasilla peppers. The results are truly unique, colorful and delicious! Thanks for the inspiration Talia! I’m giving a jar away to 2 lucky people who subscribe to Don’t worry, if you don’t win, here’s how you can make your own:

5 cups kumquats
3 dried pasilla peppers
4 tangerines
2 lemons
a lot of sugar

Slice the kumquats into thin discs. Discard all seeds (this process is very tedious). Remove peels from the tangerines. Slice peels into very thin strips and roughly chop the fruit. Measure all fruit, peels and juice. Combine 2 cups of water for every cup of fruit mixture in a large non-reactive pot. Add 3 dried pasilla peppers with stems removed. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for an hour until peels become translucent. Sterilize your canning jars and lids while the mixture simmers by submerging them in boiling water for several minutes.


Use a submersion blender to puree the peppers. Don’t puree the whole mixture just the peppers! Now, measure the fruit and add 3/4 cup of sugar for each cup of fruit mixture. Return mixture to the stove and boil over high heat until sugar is dissolved. Stir constantly until the gel point is reached. Place marmalade in sterilized jars and seal finger tight. Finally, place jars in boiling water for a few minutes to finish the canning process. Remove from water and allow jars to cool at room temperature. Make sure all of the lids have vacuum sealed properly. Enjoy!



miso glazed halibut

Miso glazed halibut with grapefruit and avocado relish

Miso glazed halibut with grapefruit and avocado relish

Ever wonder how to make miso glazed halibut (or any other fish)? I always have and I had the perfect opportunity to give it a try this week thanks to one of Britt’s clients who brought us a bunch of gorgeous fresh fish back from Alaska. The halibut was the best I’ve ever had. Thanks Julian! As it turns out, it’s surprisingly quick and simple to make miso glazed fish. I added an avocado/grapefruit relish to mine and believe its worthy of a Michelin star.

Miso Glazed Halibut
1/2 cup yellow miso paste
1/2 cup mirin
1/4 cup honey (or brown sugar)
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 heaping tablespoon fresh grated ginger
2 – 3 lbs fresh halibut
2 tablespoons canola oil

Cut halibut into portion sized servings. Whisk remaining ingredients together in a small bowl. Place the halibut in a glass dish with enough of the miso marinade and make sure all sides of the fish are coated. Cover with plastic wrap and store in refrigerator until ready to cook. Reserve the remaining miso glaze as well. This can be done up to 1 day prior.  When ready to cook fish remove from refrigerator 15 minutes before beginning.

Avocado Relish
1 avocado
1 pink or sweet grapefruit
2 scallions
1teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds

Supreme the grapefruit flesh and cut into 1/2 inch pieces. Cut the avocado into a 1/2 inch dice as well. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and gently toss with your hands being careful not to smash the avocado. *Hint – this can be done while oven is preheating.

Preheat oven to 350°F. On the stovetop, heat the canola oil on high in a large ovenproof frying pan until it begins to shimmer. Then, reduce heat to medium high and add the fish with the presentation side facedown for two minutes. Do not touch fish! This allows the Maillard reaction to take place and form a wonderful dark crust on the halibut. Turn off the heat and wait 1 more minute. Next, place frying pan on top rack of oven and bake for 3 minutes. Using an oven proof mitt remove the pan from the oven and flip the fish for 30 seconds. The fish is now ready to be plated. Add the avocado relish and serve immediately!

What I Drank:
My friend Ronnie at The Wine Country suggested I pair this dish with a 2012 Colle Stefano Verdicchio de Matelica. It had the fruit and acid to hold up to the bold flavor of the miso and avocado/grapefruit relish without overpowering the delicate nature of halibut. The complexity of the wine played off the umami of the miso glazed fish. This was one of those pairings the knocks your socks off!


roasted kabocha squash and quinoa salad

Yesterday, I saw a green pumpkin like squash at the farmer’s market. After further inquiry, I learned it is called a kabocha squash and has similar characteristics to butternut squash. It is commonly called a Japanese pumpkin and is believed to have aphrodisiac properties in some cultures (so lay off the the rhino horn and shark fins). I also found the most perfect and gigantic pomegranates and naturally couldn’t resist. My brain instantly combined the two ingredients and yearned to transform them into a salad using quinoa (which I had leftovers from the day prior). The resulting dish is fantastic and truly represents fall to me. Not only is it a great dish on it’s own, I also think it would make a great vegan stuffing substitute or a healthy side for your upcoming Thanksgiving dinner!


2.5 pound kabocha squash

1 small kabocha squash
1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa follow instructions on bag
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup pepitas
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 orange zest and juice
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

Preheat the oven to 400° F.  Scrub the outside of the kabocha with a scouring pad and hot water. Cut kabocha in half, scoop out and discard the seeds with a spoon.  Now cut the squash into 1/2 inch cubes leaving the skin intact. *Do not attempts this unless you have a large, sturdy and sharp knife! Place the kabocha in a roasting pan and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, thyme, a teaspoon of salt and freshly ground pepper. Roast 400 degrees 30 mins tossing every 10 minutes. While the kabocha is roasting cook the quinoa following the instructions on the container. Cool quinoa and kabucha before combining in fridge. About 30 minutes should do the trick. Finally, combine all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and toss with your hands. Season with salt and pepper, serve and enjoy! This can be made ahead of time and holds up great!




What I drank…
I had just finished shooting a recipe for an Italian Spris Cocktail and figured why not?! The orange in the cocktail complemented the orange juice in the salad, while, it’s bright and bitter flavors balanced out the creaminess of the squash. Interesting pairing to say the least! I’m certain a crisp acidic white would’ve worked too.

Italian Spris

Italian Spris