Tuesday, March 31, 2009


I looked in my refrigerator and had a slew of vegetables I wanted to use up from my CSA mystery box from Mariquita Farms. What about that soup my mother used to make with cabbage, celery, onions, carrots.... It was some sort of Weight Watcher's soup that she always claimed you'd burn calories eating it. Did I mention that my mother was always on a diet and wanted to lose 5 pounds! Anyway I made a big pot and ate a few bowls laughing at the fact that I was losing weight as I was eating. I even threw in a can of pigeon peas left over from an old beau. I went out to my balcony and picked a few leaves of thyme and Greek oregano and threw that in as well. I know that wasn't in my mother's recipe but nor were the pigeon peas.


1 small head Savoy cabbage, chopped
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 large carrot, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes
1 can (15 ounces) pigeon peas
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
6 cups vegetable or chicken stock
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place everything in a soup pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes until the vegetables are tender.

Serves 1 hungry girl for 2 days

Saturday, March 28, 2009

spit something gross

My brother and nephew came for dinner the other night. My brother called earlier in the day to ask what I was making for dinner and what wine he should bring. I said, "I'm going to spit roasting something." I heard my nephew ask my brother what I was making.... My brother relayed the message. "Oh, yuck!!" I heard my nephew yell. "Auntie Jo is going to spit something gross!" I think this is how rumors start. Needless to say, I spit roasted lamb and it was delicious.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

yellow vineyards

I was just looking through some photos and came across these two I took last weekend when I was driving back from Napa. I was there for the Martha Steward Everyday Food radio show with Sandy Gluck. I got up Friday morning while it was still dark and drove across the valley floor in dense fog for an early morning call. It was absolutely freezing and little did I know we'd be taping outside at Vellagio. Luckily I brought some J Vineyards Cuvee 20 Sparkling to warm us up along with almond and fennel breakfast breadsticks I'd made and preserved feta in McEvoy olive oil. The whole crew was there for the Mustard Festival. As I drove back to the City, the vineyards were glowing with yellow mustard and these woolie weeders eating their way across Cline Vineyards!


2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast
3 ¼ cups unbleached bread flour
1/2 cup coarsely ground toasted almonds
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 cups lukewarm water, about 110°f
2 tablespoons coarsely ground fennel seeds
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup sliced almonds with skins
1/2 cup semolina

In a bowl, stir together the yeast, 1/2 cup of the flour, and 1/2 cup warm water. Let stand until the mixture bubbles and rises slightly, 30 minutes. Add the remaining 2 1/2 cups flour, half of the toasted ground almonds, sugar, 1 cup warm water, fennel seeds, the salt, and olive oil, and stir together to form a ball. Knead on a lightly floured surface, kneading in the Parmigiano gradually, until smooth, elastic and slightly tacky to the touch, 7 to 10 minutes. Alternately this can be made in an electric mixer on slow speed using the dough hook, kneading for 5 minutes.

Using floured hands, press and shape the dough into a 15 by 5-inch rectangle on an oiled baking sheet. Brush with oil, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place, about 75°f, until doubled in volume, 1 to 1 1/4 hours.

Place a pizza stone on the bottom shelf of the oven and preheat to 450°f.

Sprinkle both sides of the dough with the semolina and the sliced almonds. Cut the dough into 5 equal 1-inch strips in the long direction. Cut the dough crosswise into 5 sections. This will make 20 pieces. Pick up each piece of dough and roll and stretch to fit the width of a baking sheet, about 8 to 10 inches long. Place in a single layer, 1 inch apart, on an oiled baking sheet. Bake in the middle shelf of the oven until light golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove the breadsticks from the baking sheet and place directly onto the baking stone and bake until golden and crisp, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool on a cooling rack.

Makes 20 breadsticks

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

in the vines

I was in Napa on the weekend and visited two very cool and very different wineries. First on the agenda was Boyd Family Vineyards. I am not a big Merlot drinker but Stan's Merlot could change my mind. Also love the Big Ranch Cuvee. Tasting wine with the Boyd's is like going back in time in Napa Valley. You sit at their table outside on the porch (or inside their house if it's cold) and taste with them, the winemakers. After Boyd's we made out way north out of Stan's frying pan and into the fire of Brian Fleury. He is one of the most enthusiastic people in the wine business. With his wife Claudia, they own Fleury Winery and make some fantastic Cabs. The consensus is that we all loved the Passionne but we went nuts for the barrel samples of BDX and Big F$%&* Red futures. You cannot go wrong with either winery but get ready for red teeth and lips, great, great wines and spectacular entertainment!
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Friday, March 20, 2009

first day of spring...

Headed out the door last night to the McEvoy launch party for my "Wine Country Cooking" book at the Ferry Terminal. McEvoy just does it right. They make the best olive oil and last night it was used to make delicious food from my book! Fun party with lots of people who wanted their books signed. After the last book was closed, I ran out the door. Gary Danko picked me up out front to go to Berkeley to the Parsi New Year (Indian New Year) dinner at Chez Panisse. We had a 9:00 reservation and we just made it! We started with a lovely plate of Bombay potato balls, fried curry leaves, and steamed semolina bread with avocado chutney. I am still dreaming of the chutney that Niloufer Ichaporia King, author of "My Bombay Kitchen," chef for the night, made. Alice came running over, elated! "The kitchen garden on the White House lawn..." was all she could say! Alice was beaming. She's been talking about this since Bill Clinton was in office. Anyway today, the first day of spring, all over the news, there it was, Michelle Obama and 26 5th grade students broke ground on an organic garden being planted on the White House lawn. Now that's ground breaking! And a great start to a fabulous spring!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

sunday on pine

Sunday's class was even better. I've spent a lot of time in the Piedmont teaching but that isn't where my love of focaccia al formaggio started. It started long ago when I was on the Ligurian coast and ate dinner at a place called Manuelina in Recco. Never forget it! NEVER! There were the little buckwheat corzetti with brown butter and toasted hazelnuts! Thoes were delish but the focaccia al formaggio, I will never forget. The dough is made with yeast and butter, LOTS of butter, kind of like a yeasted puff pastry. Mine is definitely a variation but about one-tenth of the work. Check it out! You will be on the next plane to Genoa! Or to my cooking class on Pine!


2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/4 cup plus 1 cup warm water
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 cups unbleached bread flour
12 ounces taleggio cheese, coarsely grated
1/3 cup finely grated aged pecorino cheese

Whisk together the yeast and 1/4 cup water and let sit until creamy, about 20 minutes. Add the remaining 1 cup water, the olive oil, flour, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Knead on a lightly floured surface until smooth and soft, 7 to 8 minutes. Place in a well-oiled bowl and turn the dough over to coat the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until it doubles in volume, about 1 1/2 hours.

Place a pizza stone or tiles on the bottom shelf of the oven. Heat the oven to 500°f for at least 30 minutes.

Divide the dough into 4 pieces and form each piece into a round ball. On a well-floured surface, roll 1 piece of dough at a time into a 9-inch circle, 1/8-inch thick. Transfer 1 piece to a well-floured pizza peel or paddle. In a bowl mix together the Taleggio and pecorino. Spread one-third of the cheese mixture on the dough, leaving a 1-inch border. Brush the edges of the dough lightly with water. Roll another ball to the same size and place on top. Crimp the edges to seal well. Pinch a hole in the second piece of dough in the center.

Bake the focaccia on the hot stone until light golden and crisp, 7 to 10 minutes. Repeat with the remaining dough and cheese filling, making 1 more focaccia. Serve immediately.

Makes 2 focaccie and serves 10

Sunday, March 15, 2009

cooking on pine

Last weekend I did a Saturday/Sunday class in my own kitchen! Now that's not just any kitchen, that's the same kitchen where I shoot my TV show. 10:00 AM arrival. Have a hot cheddar light-as-a-feather scone made by yours truly slathered with herb butter I whipped up. Then we talk about the recipes, divide up into teams and cook a 4 or 5 course lunch paired with wines. Most of the dishes were from my newest cookbook, "Wine Country Cooking." One of the the dishes we made was spicy feta dip paired with the crispy flatbread. The dip takes about 3 minutes to make but the flatbread took a little coaxing. End result.... Well.... you can see for yourself! We sipped Robert Oatley rose of sangiovese. Combo made in heaven!


1 1/4 cups Greek yogurt, drained in a paper-towel lined sieve for 4 hours
10 ounces feta cheese
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
Imported black olives as a garnish

Place the yogurt, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and the feta in a bowl and mash together with a fork to make a smooth paste. Add the garlic, cayenne, paprika, and 1 tablespoon olive oil and mix well. Alternately, this can be pureed in the food processor or blender.

Spread the puree on a serving plate. Drizzle with the remaining 1 teaspoon olive oil and garnish with olives.

Serves 6

Thursday, March 5, 2009

feet in the sand

Just back from Turks and Caicos in the Caribbean. What's not to love... sunshine, the finest, most beautiful white sand beaches, rum galore and conch! I went to the coolest place for lunch one day called the Conch Shack, my kind of place. The real thing and no jive. Reggae playing, hunker down with a rum punch at a picnic table and dig your feet into the sand while you wait for for the fishermen to get your conch fresh out of the water. Now that's about as fresh as you can get. Have some patience or have another rum punch! Out come big baskets of hot crispy fried conch. Totally fun, totally the real thing. Back in SF now and craving that sunshine and a basket!