Menu today

Vegetable soup with meatballs
 Sautéed halibut, salsa verde
  Spaghetti squash
 Duck legs roasted with pears and sweet onions
  Potatoes gratin
 Pork roast with herb mustard crust
  Braised cabbage

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Shaken and Stirred. Trinity School parents annual party

This year the annual gathering of Trinity School parents was a cocktail party instead of the usual dinner. “Shaken and Stirred”. The heavy appetizers menu theme was fast food with a twist.


Tomato soup shots with grilled cheese sandwich
Caviar potato chips
Tuna tartare potato chips
Lobster rolls
Grass-fed beef sliders with foie gras on brioche rolls, heirloom tomato slices, cornichons
Truffle French fries, saffron aioli
Pizza Margherita, morel mushroom and goat cheese pizza, pancetta and arugula pizza
Mac’n’cheese with variety of toppings

Tuna tartare: sushi grade tuna, lemon juice, wasabi powder, sesame oil, tamari soy sauce, toasted sesame seeds, micro greens, homemade potato chips.

Bellweather Farm creme fraiche and sevruga caviar on homemade potato chip.

Langostino, shrimp, and lobster salad on sweet Hawaiian roll.

Fresh ground beef chuck sliders, havarti, seared foie gras, heirloom tomato, cornichons, on brioche roll.

Tomato soup shots with wasabi grilled cheddar and Gruyere sandwiches.

Thank to my hard-working sous chef Brenda for dealing with all these potatoes and hot oil, to super-professional servers Paula and Jim, to the wonderful bartenders, to Trinity moms Gilliam and Stephanie for organizing the party, and for providing all the ingredients for the pizzas, and beautiful, imaginative and fun desserts, and of course to our dear hosts, Wendy and Stefan!

Cigarette cookies

Panna cotta martinis with chocolate olive

Piña colada jelly; Irish coffee cupcakes.

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Location:Palo Alto, CA

Kid-friendly menu this week

Cream of cauliflower soup

Macaroni and cheese with tuna and green peas
Fall fruit salad

Chicken saltimbocca
Green and shelling beans ragout

Pork chops with apples and onions
Mashed potatoes and cauliflower

Leg of lamb with mint, pine nuts, and currants stuffing
Wild and brown rice

Three beans: cranberry, Blue Lake, Romano

Stuffed leg of lamb

Kids favorite – mac’n’cheese

It’s apple season! Pork chops are flavored with green apples and sweet onion

Chicken breasts with sage, mushrooms, prosciutto, and provolone, fried sage garnish.

Location:Palo Alto, CA

How to shrink a chicken. Trinity School parents Pinot Noir tasting and annual dinner.

The long dinner table was set up on the lawn, next to the pool. On a warm Palo Alto night just four patio heaters were enough to keep all 30 guests comfortable.

After sampling the oysters and an assortment of appetizers, the guests proceeded to the dining room, converted for the evening into a tasting room, for comparative tasting of California and Oregon Pinot Noir.

Keeping up the Pacific Northwest theme, I selected local ingredients in season for the main menu.

The oysters came fresh out of the water from Tomales Bay Oyster Company, my favorite picnic spot, and the growers of Pacifica oysters (good all year around, the water in the bay is always cool).

Devil’s Gulch Ranch, located just a few miles from my home, produces excellent jumbo quails, in addition to rabbit, lamb, and pork. I met Mark, the farmer, early in the morning, on his way to the Farmers Market, to pick up my order of fresh quails. The tiny birds are one of the easiest things to cook. They are so tasty that they don’t need any additional flavoring. I rubbed the whole birds with salt, pepper, and olive oil, let them sit, refrigerated, for a couple of hours, quickly browned them with more olive oil over medium-high heat, then finished them in a 450 degree oven for 10 minutes. Another simple way to cook quails is to cut out the backbone with kitchen scissors, flatten the bird by lightly pressing it with your hand against the cutting board, salt, pepper, olive oil, then on to a pre-heated grill, 4 minutes per side. The only mistake that you can make with quails is to overcook them. The meat has to be a little pink at the bone, or it will be dry – and this can be a matter of 1 or 2 minutes – so check your quails frequently; as soon as they feel firm, they are done.

The conversation was flowing. Since quails are not the most common menu item, the running joke at the table was “How do you shrink a chicken to such a small size?” I just told you how.

After dinner everyone enjoyed a trio of homemade ice creams, and an assortment of sweets and homemade limoncello, cherry, and blackberry infusions, served from charming tiny bottles, with their coffee.



*Tomales Bay Oysters*

*Tartlets with Wild Mushroom and Caramelized Onions*

*Heirloom Tomato Basil Soup shots*

*Hummus, Romesco and Herbed Goat Cheese Dips with Flatbread*


Arugula and Orange Salad with Salmon Cakes, roasted garlic and orange aioli


Roasted Devils Gulch Ranch Quail

with Sweet Peas and Shallots accompanied with Wild Rice


Assortment of Cheese

Terrine of Homemade Vanilla Pistachio and Strawberry Ice Cream

Vanilla Ice Cream Sandwiches

Maple Ice Cream with Bacon Brittle


Sweets & Coffee

Thank you, Uncle D, for being my sous-chef and oyster man, thank you, servers Brian and Susana, for your very professional service and help in the kitchen, thank you, Trinity moms Stephanie and Gillian, for organizing the event, and for the amazing homemade ice cream, sweets, and fruit infusions, and thank you, dear hosts Wendy and Stefan for putting it all together!

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Menu today

Because it’s summer…


Shrimps with bell peppers and basil
Green and shelling beans ragout

Mushroom, potato, and bacon quiche
Mixed green salad with bacon and cherry tomatoes

Beef and black bean chili

Summer corn succotash

Lamb chops, chimichurri sauce
Roasted fingerling potatoes

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Location:Palo Alto, CA

Summer menu today

I met my client’s father when he was visiting from Europe almost a year ago. He loves soups, and when he learned that I am from Russia, he said I should make a borscht. I promised.

When I put borscht on the menu this week, I didn’t know that the client’s parents are coming to visit again. But here they are, and the borscht, Moscow style, is on the menu. I hope the old man enjoys it as much as I enjoyed making it.

Bacon-wrapped sea scallops
Creamed spinach

Heirloom tomato tart
Greek salad

Pork and vegetables stir-fry
Wild rice with mushrooms

Beef ragu
Fetucchine with garlic and herbs

I am very happy with this ragu: the quality of the stock that you use to deglaze the pan matters as much as the quality of the meat. Since I was making a rich beef stock for my borscht right here on the next burner, this ragu, made with grass-fed ground beef and bits and pieces of USDA Prime steak, also got fresh homemade beef stock. Other ingredients: olive oil, onion, garlic, carrot, celery, white wine, tomato paste, strained tomatoes, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, thyme, sea salt, fresh ground black pepper.

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Location:Palo Alto, CA

Winter menu for today

Our winter is mild, there is no snow, the mimosa is blooming, and we get a couple of hours of short sleeves almost every day. But by the dinner time it’s usually cold and dark. Dark, cold, and windy. Cold.

So here is a comforting winter menu that I cooked today. It’s full of hearty meats, mushrooms, citrus fruits that are natural antidepressants and are in season right now, and it even includes my Grandma’s meat pies, directly from Russia, recipe follows.

The menu:
Roasted vegetables soup

Salmon with lemon and parsley gremolata
Fennel gratin

Farfalle with creamy chicken and mushroom sauce

Roasted pork loin with honey and orange glaze
Braised red cabbage

Meat pies
Spinach salad with walnuts, orange, and goat cheese

The meat pies are based on my grandmother’s recipe for Tartar belyashi, or peremyachi, with a few changes made to accommodate modern Californian ingredients. They are a perfect accompaniment to any winter soup.

Meat pies
Makes 12

For the dough:
4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 packets active dry yeast
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 egg
1-1/2 cup of warm water, or enough to form a soft, pliable dough

For the filling:
1 lb ground grass-fed beef
12 oz ground lamb
2 medium onions, minced
1 small bunch of flat-leaf parsley, minced
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce, or to taste
Sea salt, fresh ground black pepper to taste

For cooking: 1/2 cup grape seed oil, or other high temperature, neutral-tasting oil

In a large bowl, combine flour, yeast, sugar, salt, egg. Add water, a little at a time, and mix with your hands to make a soft dough, about the texture of pizza dough. Knead for 5 minutes. Form the dough into a neat ball, put in the bowl, cover with a napkin, and set in a warm place to rise. After about 1 hour the dough should double in size. Pinch it back and fold 2-3 times. Let rise and double in size again.

Combine ground beef, ground lamb, onions, parsley, and Worcestershire sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Fry a bite-size piece of the filling and taste for seasoning. Adjust the seasoning. Divide the filling into 12 more or less equal portions.

Remove the dough onto a surface dusted with flour. Cut the dough into 12 equal portions; roll each portion into a ball. Roll out each ball into a 6-inch disc. Place a portion of the filling in the middle of a disk, gather the sides and pinch them together to enclose the filling, leaving a small opening in the middle. Flatten the pie with your palm into 1-inch thick disk. Repeat with remaining dough and filling. Let the pies rest 20-25 minutes.

Divide the oil between two large frying pans. Heat the pans over medium heat. Place the pies, open side down, into the pans. Cook until well browned. Turn over, baste with hot oil from the pans, cook until golden on the other side and cooked through, 10-12 minutes. Remove the pies to a paper towel covered plate. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.

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Location:Palo Alto, CA

Menu today

OK, done with my sales pitch, now back to the kitchen. Today’s menu (without pricing; the pricing was, in fact, very similar to that in the previous post)

Cream of cauliflower soup

Cod with caper-tomato topping
Brown rice with vegetables

Dijon chicken
Quinoa with orange

Swiss chard beef rolls
Parsnip and carrot puree

Beef and beer stew
Garlic green beans

The cauliflower soup is a miracle: it actually tastes creamy, without any cream added. The pureed cauliflower does the trick. As a result the soup is rich, smooth, and very low in calories. If made without butter, it is also suitable for dairy-free diets, and still tastes great. It is also one of the simplest soups to make.

Cream of Cauliflower Soup
Makes a lot

1 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp butter (optional)
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
1 small parsnip, peeled and chopped
Sea salt
2 medium heads white cauliflower, leaves discarded, stems chopped, crowns separated into florets

Heat oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add onions, cook until soft and begin to turn golden. Add butter, if using. Add parsnip, cook until it begins to soften, 5-6 minutes.

Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a 6-quart soup pot. Add salt to taste. Add onions, parsnip, cauliflower, bring back to boil, reduce heat to low, to maintain slow simmer. Cook until cauliflower is very soft, 25-30 minutes. Puree in blender, leaving some chunks of cauliflower for texture, if desired. Adjust seasoning and serve.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Palo Alto, CA

Menu for a special diet today

I’ve been too busy to write a full-size post recently, but here is a quick update.

Today’s client has a strict diet with multiple restrictions: no grains, poultry, milk products, legumes, shellfish, canned or fermented foods; some vegetables, herbs and spices (for example black or red pepper) are also excluded.

Here is her menu, simple and wholesome. All vegetables, local king salmon, eggs, and Full of Life Farm’s stew lamb coming from Mountain View Sunday farmers market, the rest from Whole Foods.

Beef and vegetable soup
Salmon with lemon-parsley gremolata
Sautéed new potatoes
Frittata with bacon and caramelized onion
Beef meatballs, tomato sauce
Braised cabbage
Pork stir-fry with kale, asparagus, and red onion
Lamb and eggplant stew

Roasted yams

Packaged as individual servings, to take to the office for lunch or to have for dinner.

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Location:Palo Alto, CA

Today’s menu, vegetarian

Root vegetable soup with spinach and dill

Bulgur with radishes, spinach, and pine nuts
Roasted carrots

Steamed broccoli with chickpeas and mushrooms
Cucumber salad with yogurt dressing

Quinoa-stuffed peppers
Roasted Brussels sprouts

Braised collards and radish greens with garlic and white wine
Green beans with lemon and garlic

Bulgur with radishes, spinach, and pine nuts, a Whole Foods recipe, is my current favorite vegetarian dish. The interplay of textures and the harmony of the flavors make it perfect, served hot or at room temperature.

Radishes spell early spring, and right now they are the best: juicy, crunchy, spicy-sweet, and inexpensive. Besides the favorite bulgur dish, I added a few carrots to the roasting Brussels sprouts (winter meets spring), and used the greens for the braised greens dish. The client requested collards and turnip greens; but wherever I went, turnips were sold already trimmed, but the radishes were proudly displaying rich fresh green tails, so I made the substitute.

In making this menu I used my client’s Blendtec blender. In the blender competition between VitaMix and Blendtec, I clearly prefer VitaMix – after all, I own one! But Blendtec comes close second. It wet-chops vegetables for the mirepoix just a bit slower than my VitaMix, and mixes the salad dressing just great.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Palo Alto, CA