Friday, July 31, 2009

events, events, events


what: Private Charity Event for Guide Dogs for the Blind
where: Boyd Family Vineyards, Napa Valley

what: My birthday! Do all Leos love birthdays?
how many years: A girl's gotta have her secrets

what: TEQUILA Party with my pal, Heidi Kreiling
where: Marinitas in San Anselmo
218 Sir Francis Drake Blvd. San Anselmo
when: 5:00 to 7:00 PM
details: For 25 bucks, you get a signed copy of Tequila (by yours truly, of course), an artisanal tequila tasting and antojitos (Heidi's fabulous Mexican bites). Reservations necessary.

what: Tomato Cooking Demo with my best chef friend, Gary Danko
SF Chefs. Food. Wine
where: Williams Sonoma Flagship Store
Union Square, San Francisco
when: 3:30 to 5:00
details: Splurge and support the first ever 4-day celebration of San Francisco chefs, food and wine. For $150.00 you can join in the Friday events that include sessions and grand tasting.

what: Shop with the Chef cooking demo
where: Ferry Terminal
San Francisco
when: 11:00

what: TEQUILA Dinner
where: Reposado Restaurant
236 Hamilton Avenue
Palo Alto
when: 6:00
details: Four course dinner including wine, tax, tip and a signed Tequila book. Single $88.00. Couple $155.00. I will be there signing books!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

whatamelon punch recipe... be careful!

It's only Tuesday and I'm already talking cocktails. I can't help it, I may very well have discovered this summer's house cocktail this past weekend during my tequila cooking class.

Award-winning bartender, owner of Elixir, tequila pal extraordinaire, H Ehrmann, came to shake up some cocktails with my students in my kitchen on Sunday. H is knowledgeable, passionate and one hell of a bartender. Whatamelon Punch comes with serious warnings. You'd never know there's lots of blanco tequila in it. Muddled with sweet fresh watermelon and a splash of St Germain Elderflower, my, my, my! My fiance is an attorney so may this be your warning! I am not liable.

Sunny, warm, very un-San Francisco kind of summer day. I had no problem downing three in one sitting. Dangerously delicious! Go for it!


To "slap" the mint, place the sprig on one palm and slap with the other hand to give a burst of mint flavor and aroma.

5 to 6 1-inch watermelon cubes
6 mint leaves
1 1/2 ounces blanco tequila (we used PARTIDA!)
1 ounce St. Germain Elderflower liqueur
1/2 ounce agave nectar
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
Mint sprigs as a garnish

Place the watermelon cubes and 5 of the mint leaves in a mixing glass and muddle for 5 to 10 seconds. Add the tequila, St. Germain, agave nectar and lime juice. Fill with plenty of ice and shake for 10 seconds. Strain over fresh ice into a highball glass. Garnish with a slapped piece of mint.

Makes one drink

Friday, July 24, 2009

tequila book give-away and happy national tequila day

I'll drink to that!

Just minutes ago, I got off a radio interview with Martha Stewart Everyday Food where we were talking tequila and celebrating National Tequila Day, TODAY! I like to blog on Friday and I was thinking, what should I write about today? Of course, TEQUILA!

This is Carlos Carmarena of El Tesoro slamming back a caballito of his blanco tequila straight out of the still. Carlos told me a great story. Do you know where shooting shots of tequila comes from? No, not college days!

Early distilleries were located way out in the countryside in the agave fields, and since drinking glasses weren't available where mezcal was being made, it was initially served in the hollowed out tip of a bull's horn, called a cuernito or caballito. Due to the limited supply of horns, the vessel was passed from one drinker to another. Because it was impossible to set the horn down without it falling over, shots were thrown back before the horn was passed along to the next drinker. Thus began the tradition of drinking shots of mezcal and, later, tequila.

Oh, one more thing... I'm giving away a copy of my new tequila book "Tequila, A Guide to Types, Flights, Cocktails and Bites" to one lucky winner. To be eligible, make sure, if you haven't already, put your name in the subscriber box (top left). Then leave me a comment and let me know your favorite way to celebrate National Tequila Day. I'll pick a winner at random next week and send you the book.

How am I celebrating? I'm teaching a tequila weekend cooking and cocktail-making class beginning with a tequila reception tonight in my kitchen.

How are you celebrating National Tequila Day?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

tomato salad recipe

Tis the season! The one we wait all year long for....

Tomatoes are just coming into season and it makes me truly grateful that there are seasons, mothers and fabulous chefs.

When I was really little, about 5 or 6, I remember my mother saying she was going to make me a tomato sandwich. I rolled my eyes thinking why couldn't my mother be like all the other mothers? What's wrong with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or a tuna sandwich? No, she wanted to make me a tomato sandwich. (You'll love the dedication in my tomato cookbook, "You Say Tomato")

She went to the garden and picked a tomato and brought it inside still warm from the sun. She sliced some homemade bread, toasted it, spread it with mayonnaise (no doubt homemade) and sliced the tomato. I can still remember the smell of that fresh tomato! She carefully put a few slices of juicy tomato on the sandwich, sprinkled the tomatoes with salt and put the top on. I took the first bite and thought I'd died and gone to heaven!

I had that same sensation the other night when I ate the most incredible tomato salad at the Restaurant at Wente Vineyards in Livermore. The tomatoes reminded me of the delicious summer tomatoes my mother picked from her garden many years ago with just the right balance of acid and sweetness. Arthur Wall, the fabulous chef at Wente, crumbled a little of the creamiest Laura Chenel goat cheese over the tomatoes. He drizzled Arbequina virgin olive oil onto the top. I loved the sweetness and simplicity of torn basil leaves and the light dusting of sea salt and cracked black pepper that left their taste in my mouth long after I'd finished my salad.


Heirloom tomatoes of different varieties and colors, cut into different shapes and sizes
Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
Fresh goat cheese
Whole basil leaves, torn into pieces
Extra virgin olive oil

Arrange the tomatoes on a platter and season with salt and pepper. Crumble the goat cheese onto the tomatoes. Tear the basil leaves and sprinkle onto the top. Drizzle with olive oil.

Serves one happy tomato-loving Joanne Weir

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

cooking class and tomato recipe

Good morning class!

Garlic, Tomatoes and Olive Oil! That's the theme of today's class, the first day of a weeklong class I began teaching this morning. And what a day it was! 10:00 AM, clean aprons, anxiety and lots of smiles. We made the Best Bloody Marys with Pickled Asparagus to serve with Crostini Rossi or red crostini. Then we had a tomato salad with all kinds of first-of-the-season heirloom tomatoes with Gorgonzola and pine nut toasts and for the main course, homemade feta and goat cheese ravioli with tomatoes and mint. And since this is a day of garlic, tomatoes and olive oil, what for dessert? You'd never guess.... An upside down spiced heirloom tomato cake?

Fantastic cooking students with only one little blunder. We planned on making two cakes to have enough for everyone. The student team responsible for the cake did a masterful job preparing the batter but poured a double batch into one 9-inch pan instead of two. They did it so quickly I didn't notice anything was wrong until I smelled the wonderful cinnamon, cloves and gingered batter as it overflowed the pan and cooked on the bottom of the oven.

But as we turned the finished cake out onto the cakestand, the oooohs and ahhhhs could be heard a block away. The warm, luscious spice cake crowned with tomatoes looked perfect. Want the recipe?

4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger
2 small ripe red tomatoes, peeled, seeded and thinly sliced

1 ½ cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
large pinch salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground mace
½ cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
½ cup molasses
2 eggs, separated
1 teaspoon plus a few drops vanilla
½ cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon confectioner’s sugar

Butter a 9" cake pan. For the topping melt the butter, brown sugar and ginger in the bottom of the cake pan. Cover with a single layer of the tomato sliced.

Preheat oven to 350oF. For the cake, mix the flour, baking powder, salt, ginger, cloves, cinnamon and mace together. Cream the butter and sugar together in a bowl. Add the molasses to the creamed mixture, and the egg yolks, adding one yolk at a time, beating well after each addition. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla and mix well. Add the milk to the above batter alternately with the dry ingredients, folding well after each addition. Beat the egg whites until stiff. Fold the whites into the cake batter. Spread the batter over the tomatoes and bake until a skewer goes into the center and comes out clean, approximately 45 to 50 minutes.

After the cake has cooled for at least 15 minutes, run a knife around the edges of the pan to loosen it. Turn the cake over onto a serving platter and let it sit another 5 minutes. Remove the pan. Whip the cream and flavor with confectioner’s sugar and remaining few drops vanilla.

To serve, cut the cake into wedges and serve the cream on the side.

Serves 8 to 10

Friday, July 10, 2009

summer fruit crisp recipe

One of my favorite secrets (oh, I guess it's no longer a secret) for a quick and easy dessert is a fresh fruit crisp! You can make it any season depending upon the fruit! Last night as I looked at the abundance of summer fruit on my counter, I honestly got nervous. Why did I buy so much? What if it all ripens at the same moment? Never throuwing a single bit of food away, I had images of myself eating a half case of my all-time favorite Royal Blenheim apricots, a huge bowl of the deepest purple Bing cherries and a dozen juicy ripe Crimson Sweet pluots all in the same hour.

When I have too much fresh fruit on hand, I always go back to my old standard fruit crisp. Are you still wondering what the secret is? Here goes... When I make crisp topping, I double or quadruple the recipe and store what I don't use in the freezer. Then all I have to do is cut up the fruit, toss it with sugar and flour and pour it in a baking dish. Next top it with the crisp topping and into the oven for about a half hour until it's bubbling and golden brown.

Here's what I made last night!


3/4 cup pecans, toasted
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, out of the refrigerator 10 minutes
1/2 cup oatmeal

For the Fruit Filling
1 1/2 pounds pluots and apricots, pitted and cut into 8ths
1 pound pitted Bing cherries
1 cup blueberries
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar

Place the nuts in the food processor and pulse a few times until the nuts are in 1/4-inch pieces. Remove the nuts and reserve. Place the flour, brown sugar, and nutmeg in the food processor and process until well mixed. Add the butter to the food processor and pulse until it just begins to hold together. Add the oatmeal and nuts and pulse 3 to 4 more times until mixed.

Preheat the oven to 375°f.

In a bowl, toss together the fruit, flour, and sugar until well mixed. Place the fruit in a 2 to 2 1/2 quart baking dish and sprinkle the crisp topping evenly over the top. Bake in the middle of the oven until a skewer inserted into the center goes in without any resistance, the top is golden, and the fruit mixture is bubbling around the edges, 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for 20 minutes before serving.

To serve, spoon the crisp into individual dessert dishes.

Serves 8

Monday, July 6, 2009

grilled potato salad recipe

It was requested that I bring the potato salad on Saturday to my friend Kelny's Fourth of July picnic. I've always loved my mother's recipe for good old potato salad but this time I wanted to come up with a new version, my version. My pantry and fridge were packed with three or four pounds of freshly dug German Butterball potatoes, a few red Torpedo onions and the freshest, sweetest Blue Lake green beans from my CSA box. (After tasting those green beans, I vow never to buy green beans again from any grocery store.) But the salad needed some acid, sweetness and color so I went to the farmer's market and got some red and yellow cherry tomatoes and basil. I also grabbed some mint from my balcony "garden" and off I went to the kitchen to make Joanne's potato salad.


1 Basic Recipe for Grilled Potatoes
1 pound green wax beans, ends removed, cut diagonally into 2-inch pieces
30 mint leaves
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 cups red and yellow cherry tomatoes, halved
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 medium red onion, coarsely diced
1/2 cup basil chiffonade

Make one recipe of the grilled potatoes ans set them aside to cool.

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the green beans and cook until tender but still slightly crisp, 4 to 7 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Bring a small pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add the mint leaves and simmer 20 seconds. Drain. Place the mint leaves in a blender and with the motor running add the olive oil and vinegar and process 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides and continue to puree 30 to 60 seconds until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

Place the cherry tomatoes in a bowl and toss with balsamic vinegar and salt. Set aside for 10 minutes.

In the large bowl containing the potatoes, add the mint oil, green beans, cherry tomatoes and their juices, the onions and toss together. Add the basil and toss again gently. Place in a big serving bowl and enjoy.

Serves a crowd


3 pounds small red-skinned new potatoes
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat an oven to 375°F. Wash the potatoes and place in a 13 X 9-inch baking dish. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil, season with salt and pepper, cover with foil and bake until easily skewered, 40 to 60 minutes depending upon the size of the potatoes.

Preheat an outdoor grill or an indoor cast-iron ridged grill. Cut the potatoes in half. Place the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a small bowl. Dip the cut side of the potatoes in the oil and place on a hot grill. Grill until the potatoes are hot and the cut side has golden brown grill mark, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from the grill and place in a large serving bowl. Add the remaining ingredients, toss together and serve immediately.