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

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Spring moments in the kitchen

Squash blossoms. Stuff them with seasoned cottage cheese and fry.

Heirloom tomato salad, fillet mignonette, new potatoes with ramp pesto


Pappardelle with rabbit ragu. The spring version includes peas and spinach

Spring lamb chops, asparagus with quail egg and ramp-lemon butter

The first heirloom tomatoes with herbs and olive oil

Grilled chicken and bacon sausages, rosa blanca potatoes, heirloom tomato salad

Springtime mirepoix: spring onion, green garlic, baby leeks, carrots

Paella mixta with asparagus and fava beans

Green peas


Baby greens with herbs, flowers, and goat cheese salad

Cowgirl Creamery Inverness cheese
 Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Menu today

Chicken and vegetables soup with pesto

Pan-fried sablefish (black cod), Meyer lemon salsa
Smashed potatoes and fava beans

Braised duck legs with savory cherry compote
Black rice

Saffron chicken with spring onions and sugar snap peas
Parmesan pudding

Beef fillet steaks, mushroom and green garlic topping
Steamed asparagus

You can see right away that I’ve been reading Susan Goin’s Sunday Suppers at Lucques – most recipes are either close adaptations from the book, or are inspired by it. With all the seasonal cookbooks that appeared recently, some of them featuring stories of the farmers, others giving tips on growing your own produce, this one is still the best.

The asparagus is the last of the season (at least from the local farmers at the Farmers Market; there will be asparagus flown from far away at the supermarket, but it won’t be the same). So I prepared it simply: steamed in the microwave until just tender and bright green, cooled quickly, dressed with salt, pepper, and good olive oil.

The potatoes with fava beans recipe is my own, and a very simple one – I desperately need to use up my garden fava beans, they were planted as a placeholder for tomatoes, and now the tomatoes sit waiting in little pots while the beens just keep on producing…

If using conventionally grown potatoes in this dish, peel them. Most of the chemicals, as well as the vitamins, accumulate in the skins. I like to use organic potatoes from the Farmers Market, and leave the skins on – they add color and textural contrast to the dish.

Smashed potatoes and fava beans
Serves 6

2 lb. organic small red potatoes, scrubbed, unpeeled
2 lb. fava beans in the pods (makes about 2 cups shelled and skinned)
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
Salt, pepper
2 Tbsp chopped parsley and/or chives, to garnish

Put the potatoes in a medium pot, cover with cold water, bring to a boil, reduce heat to maintain a slow simmer, cook until potatoes are very tender, about 20 minutes. Drain, return the pot briefly to the heat to dry the potatoes.

Meanwhile shell the beans. Bring a pot of water to a boil, prepare a bowl with ice water. Place the shelled beans in a wire strainer or a metal colander, lower into the boiling water, boil 1-2 minutes, remove and immediately dip into the ice water – this will loosen the skins. Skin the beans by pinching the skin on stem end and squeezing the bean out. Add to the potatoes.

Coarsely mash potatoes and beans with a large fork or a wooden spoon. Season with salt and pepper, sprinkle with parsley and chives.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Palo Alto, CA

Autumnal menu today

It’s Fall! Squashes, mushrooms, root vegetables, slow-cooked meats, Fall fruits, and sturdy, earthy herbs like rosemary and thyme dominate the menu. Oranges and lemons begin to appear again. Recently, I’ve been bombarded with lemons: two of my clients gave me large bags of lemons from their trees, and I have two lemon trees (one Meyer, one Eureka) of my own! I use them to season vegetables, make sauces, and I’ve been making lots of lemon curd to give everyone. My own birthday cake was a lemon tart.

I am very excited about this season’s chanterrelle mushrooms. No one learned to farm chanterrelles yet, so these sweet aromatic mushrooms can be only foraged in the wild, so they are expensive. Apparently this is a good year for them, and there are bargains: Sigona’s Farmers Market has very nice chanterrelles at $9.99 a pound, and Costco sells a 1-pound box of slightly overgrown, but still very tasty mushrooms for $8.99! I’m feeling lucky! Both the buckwheat kasha and the stuffed chicken breasts got a mixture of dried porcini (from a Russian grocery store) and fresh chanterrelles, cooked in olive oil and butter, seasoned with sea salt, pepper, thyme, and garlic.

The fruit salad today was composed of the Fall favorites: Thompson grapes, Fuyu persimmons, orange, and pomegranate seeds.

The beef pot roast spent 4 hours simmering over very low heat, with bay leaf, thyme, onions, baby carrots (the real ones, not the machine-cut “baby” carrots from a sealed supermarket bag), garlic, turnip, and watermelon radish added later on, and it came out melting-tender.

The sautéed slices of delicata squash look like golden flowers. The little golden triangles are slices of butternut squash that didn’t fit into the soup pot. Delicata has tender edible skin, no need to peel it. Just slice it, get out the seeds, and sauté it in olive oil with a little bit of sea salt to balance the sweetness. It can also be sliced lengthwise, de-seeded, and stuffed with vegetables, meat, rice, or anything. In a word, treat it as an overgrown zucchini 🙂

Butternut squash soup with sweet chai spices

Roasted beets salad with orange and goat cheese
Fruit salad

Sea scallops with spinach and feta
Chicken breasts stuffed with wild mushrooms
Lamb chops, salsa verde
Beef pot roast with root vegetables

Sautéed delicata squash
Broiled peppers and portabello mushrooms
Rosemary and thyme roasted fingerling potatoes
Buckwheat kasha

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Mill Valley, CA

Colorful spring menu today

From my previous post it may look like my vegetable garden is losing it’s struggle with the local wild life. It is not so. I’m learning to garden in these difficult conditions, and I had some successes. The key is to protect the plants they favor, to plant what the beasts don’t like, or to grow whatever grows faster than they eat it. Most culinary herbs (basil, red sorrel, and dill are the exceptions) don’t seem to interest them. This year, my fava beans are my pride and joy. Fast growing, beautiful plants bear tons of tasty beans, and the only one who is interested is the gopher – and he cannot take them all. Well, he got a couple of plants, but I still have the rest!

Now they are at the peak of their short season, and they go happily into a ragout of fava beans, green beans, and English peas, seasoned with sautéed red onion, garlic, white wine, and good olive oil.

This week I also started cooking with fresh tomatoes again. They are not at their best yet, but after roasting the flavor gets more concentrated, and they make a good roasted tomato soup.

On the menu today:

Roasted tomato soup with pasta

Mushroom, ricotta, and spring onion tartlets
Tangy macaroni salad

Zucchini and carrot “spaghetti” primavera

Duck legs roasted with sweet onions, lemon, and olives
Herbed new potatoes

Lamb chops, chimichurri sauce
Fresh peas and beans ragout

Emerald-green goodness of fava beans and English peas bring the spring to the table.

This isn’t your orthodox spaghetti primavera. The “noodles” are cut out of Nantes carrots and zucchini with a julienne peeler, then steamed briefly and topped with a spring vegetables medley. I first developed this technique for a client who cannot eat any grains – I wanted to make a pasta for her. Then I realized that anyone who wants a vegan dish would probably enjoy it.

Today’s client, a mother of two, gets a little bunch of edible chive flowers for the Mother’s Day on her lamb chops.

Wild mushrooms sautéed with thyme and garlic, and thinly sliced spring onions, top these classic puff pastry ricotta tartlets.

What I bought as packaged “duck legs” in a Chinese grocery store turned out to be whole duck leg quarters! Good. More duck. First, cooked in a skillet, skin side down, to render the fat and to crisp the skin; then, slow-roasted in the oven on top of sweet onion slices, with lemon, rosemary, thyme, and white wine. Garnished with olives.
– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Cupertino, CA

Sautéed potatoes with mushrooms

This is the ultimate Russian winter comfort food, and it’s very easy to make. The only secret is, the potatoes and the mushrooms have to be cooked separately, then combined just before serving. Why can’t we make it a one-skillet meal? Because the mushrooms need salt early, to help them release their water and become crisp; the potatoes, on the other hand, cook best without salt, that will make them break down and lose their shape, if added too early.

Here I made this dish with store-bought crimini mushrooms. Back in Russia we used any type of foraged forest mushrooms, with even more delicious results, or, in the middle of the winter, when no fresh mushrooms were available, we would rinse pickled mushrooms to remove the brine, and then proceed with the recipe.

I like to season my mushrooms with a little thyme, garlic, and fresh ground pepper. Most Russian cooks go for sautéed onions, and leave out the pepper. Try it both ways. Both are good.

Sautéed potatoes with mushrooms
Serves four

For the potatoes:
2 Tbsp olive oil
5 large Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
Sea salt

Heat oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the potatoes, cook, stirring occasionally, until almost tender. Season with sea salt, continue cooking until cooked through.

For the mushrooms:
2 Tbsp olive oil
8 oz crimini mushrooms, sliced 1/8 inch thin
Sea salt
Fresh ground black pepper
2 large garlic cloves, minced
5-6 thyme sprigs, leaves picked, stems discarded

Heat oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms, season generously with salt and pepper. Cook until the mushrooms release the liquid and it evaporates. Add garlic and thyme. Continue cooking until mushrooms and garlic are browned.

Combine potatoes with mushrooms, serve as a side to braised meat, or on their own.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad