Friday, July 31, 2009

Peach Jam

I have ben wanting to make jam with some of the fresh peaches form Theresa's yard. I have a whole day at home today so it was the perfect time to try it.

To Make Peach Jam:

4 cups peeled, pitted and crushed yellow peaches (3 1/2 to 4 pounds)
1/4 cup strained fresh lemon juice
7 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon unsalted butter
1 (3 ounce) pouch liquid pectin

In an 8 quart pan, combine the peaches and lemon juice. Stir in about half the sugar. Cover the pan and let stand for 20 minutes.

Remove the cover. Stir in the remaining sugar and the butter. Over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, heat the mixture until the sugar is completely dissolved. Increase the heat to medium-high, and bring the mixture to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Boil, stirring constantly for 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat. Skim off any foam.

Return to the pan to the heat and bring the mixture to a full rolling boil. stir in the entire contents of the pectin pouch. Return the mixture to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Boil, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Remove the pan form the heat. Skim off any foam.

To prevent the jam from separating in the jars, allow the jam to cool 5 minutes before filling the jars. Gently stir the jam every minute or so to distribute the fruit. Ladle the hot jam into hot jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Wipe the jar rims and threads with a clean, damp cloth. Cover with hot lids and apply screw rings. Process half-pint jars in a 200 degree F (93 C) water bath for 10 minutes, pint jars 15 minutes.

NOTE: When preparing peaches, cut the fruit in quarters and remove the red fibers from the center before crushing the fruit. The fibers can be tough and stringy when cooked, and the red streaks in the jam can detract from its appearance.

Makes about 8 half-pint jars.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Nursery Update

Jen and John sent home a bouncer, walker and jumper for the baby that Jacob had outgrown so the first thing we did when we got back into town was drop them off at Theresa and Shawn's. Theresa had told me on the phone on the drive back that they had finished painting the room and that the dresser and crib were in there at this point. We couldn't wait to see it!

Shawn's sister Kim gave them this crib that her son and daughter used. I love that about it.

Theresa painted and decorated the dresser.

She also made the BABY letters. She had made a set for Jacob's nursery as well. They are adorable.

On top of the dresser she put this brown sticker of a Princess. Sorry it isn't a great pic but the sun was pouring in from the window above the dresser. The room is really coming together. It is fir for a magazine. As to Theresa herself, she is doing good but not great. Her feet remain swollen and she is feeling the weight of the baby, such as constant pressure n her bladder. Never fun. We are all so excited we count down to her due date in mid October.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Justin's First Football Practice

The main purpose of our trip to see the kids this time was to be able to attend Justin's first 2 hour football practice Monday night. We were so excited to be there and Jus was excited to have us there.

They work them hard the first two weeks of practice. A lot of sprints, moves, exercises and stretching muscles.

Jus getting some help with a move.

Jacob wanted to go out there and play with his big brother too!

Justin after catching the football thrown to him while on the run and bringing it back in after running it down the field. Justin is a fast runner and was very good at catching the football. He wasn't afraid of it like a lot of the boys were and he even dived for some of the catches. The coaches were impressed. So were we. We may have a receiver in the family.
Justin throwing the ball to his teammates while they are on the run. This is also the time the coaches find out who is good at what to make their decisions to what position each of them will play.

Setting up positions to learn what each position is. Tuesday night practice there was also a parents meeting, so Granddad and I stayed home with Jacob and I prepared dinner. It was preceious time spent alone with him.

Fun Moments with Jacob

Jacob is a good eater and he has fun doing it. I hope when he gets older he will have as much passion about cooking food as he does eating it.

Feeding himself yogurt.

The green stuff on his nose is avocado.

Jen and I were saying "Cheeeeese." Here he is saying it himself. The sound was more like "ssssssssss." He thought it was quite funny.

He is quite the ham. There is a red light that goes on my camera when I it is going to snap a picture. He would stop, pose or laugh each time he saw the red light. I told him his Great Uncle Ronnie will have him starring in films in no time.

The yogurt on his face reminds me of a clowns make-up except it is light instead of red. He is such a character. (BTW, look at all those teeth!)

Have you ever seen anyone have so much fun eating yogurt?

Bath time. Jen made his hair all wild.

Jen and I thought he looked like the Doc in Back to the Future. Justin said he looked like the Dad in the movie The Hulk. All I can say is Jacob is one of the happiest little guys. Not only does he laugh a lot, he makes you laugh a lot when you are with him.

The Last of the Napa Photo's

Here are the pictures I promised. Thanks Sarah!
As you look at our entree choices at Bottega, keep in mind that not only does the chef and his team select the best purveyors for produce, meat and fish, focusing as much as possible on local sources, but that pastas, cured meats, fresh cheeses, cured olives and the like are made in house! You know the freshness with every bite.

My choice: Garganelli with tomato braised rabbit sugo, wild mushrooms & ricotta.

Sarah's choice: Fusilli Lucani with veal, pork and porcini mushroom Bolognese, Sweet 100 tomatoes, rosemary and parmigiano.

David's Choice (we all agree this was the #1 entree of the three we ordered): Adriatic Seafood Brodetto monkfish, mussels, rock cod & fresh Monterrey calamari, forno-confit tomato broth, olive oil crouton, paprika (it was smoked)-saffron rouille.

Our visit to Dean and DeLuca's: the cheese selection is stellar. We bought burrata and Brillat Saverin.

Lots of potatoes.

Some of the fresh produce.

Olive can find everything you need here.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Saturday: A Day of Food, Drink & Holding Up the Couch

We started the day off with champagne (ok Prosecco) brunch on the patio. It was easy to throw together since I just had to bake the strata off, reheat the sausages and add the syrup and rosemary, slice fruit and make a simple topping for the fruit salad, and slice a tomato from the shared garden.

To make the Artichoke and Roasted Red Pepper Strata from the Candlelight Inn (B&B in Napa):

This recipe makes 16 servings but I get 8 to 12 servings from it most of the time. This recipe is easily adaptable. Just substitute different vegetables, herbs, or chopped ham or bacon, etc. for the artichokes and peppers.

12 eggs 2 tsp. hot sauce 1/2 cup flour 1 tsp. baking powder 1/2 tsp. salt 1/2 cup melted butter 1 pint cottage cheese 1 lb. shredded cheese, such as Jack & Cheddar mixed 8 oz. marinated artichoke hearts, coarsely chopped 8 oz. roasted red peppers, chopped 4 slices white bread, crusts trimmed off and cut into cubes

Beat eggs and add hot sauce. Mix flour, baking powder and salt together, whisk into eggs. Add melted butter, then fold in cottage cheese, shredded cheese, artichoke hearts, and roasted red peppers.

Sprinkle bread cubes into 2 buttered 8" x 8" glass baking dishes. Pour egg mixture evenly over the top. Recipe can be prepared ahead up to this point, covered, and refrigerated over night.
Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until eggs are firm and knife comes out clean. Garnish with sour cream and green salsa.

To make the Breakfast Sausages with Caramelized Onions, Rosemary and Maple Syrup: This recipe is also easily cut in half.

2 (12 ounce) packages good-quality breakfast sausage links
1 large onion, peeled and cut into very thin wedges
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary

Cook sausages in a large skillet 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add onion; stir for 15 minutes more or until onions are very soft and caramelized. Stir in syrup and rosemary.

Note: I make this a head most of the time. Cook the sausages and onion following directions; cover and refrigerate. Before serving, slowly reheat in a skillet. Add syrup and rosemary at this point, then serve.

To make the Fruit Salad with Limoncello: This recipe makes 6 servings, again easily cut in half.

7 ounces Greek yogurt (I usually use low or non fat)
1/3 cup a good bottled lemon curd (I usedsome of the homemade I made recently)
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups sliced strawberries
1 cup raspberries
1 cup blueberries
2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons limoncello liqueur (I used homemade shared with us by our neighbors Jeff and Kelli)
1 banana, sliced (I used only berries this time)
Fresh mint sprigs, if desired
For the lemon yogurt topping, whisk together the yogurt, lemon curd, honey and vanilla and set aside at room temperature.
For the fruit salad, carefully toss together the three types of berries, sugar and limencello. Allow them to stand at room temperature for about 5 minutes to let the berries macerate with the sugar and liqueur. Gently fold in the banana into the mixture.
Serve bowls of fruit with a dollop of lemon yogurt on top. Top with a sprig of fresh mint if desired.
Note: If you can't find Greek Yogurt you can easily use plain yogurt and put it in a strainer to drain off liquid so it becomes thick like Greek Yogurt. The consistency of Greek yogurt is closer to a creme fraiche or sour cream.
Sarah holding up the couch.

For dinner I made insalata caprese using fresh heirloom tomatoes from the garden and burrata (fresh creamy mozzarella) we got at Dean and DeLuca's while in Napa, Mushroom Risotto finished off with Pecorino Romano, and Italian marinated lamb loin chops. A very simple Italian meal which we also ate on the patio. The weather has been just beautiful.

We drank a bottle of Chiarello Family Vineyards Zinfandel which we enjoyed as much as we had the day before with our lunch at Bottega.
This morning we enjoyed leftover strata, sliced tomatoes and a glass of Prosecco. We spent the morning talking before David took Sarah to the airport to head back to AZ. It was sad to see her go. We all look forward to the next time she comes to spend time with us.

Friday: A Late Lunch at Michael Chiarello's Bottega

We were a little early for our 1:30 reservation so we wandered through Michael Chiarello's (key- a- rello)Napa Style; kitchen and food shop, deli and wine tasting. He has so many flavored gray salts it's amazing. Napa Style is right across the walkway from his restaurant.

Sarah and I outside Bottega.

The waiter suggested The Chiarello Family Winery Napa Valley Zinfandel to go with the three entrees we chose. This is a fabulous Zin we all ended up adoring. so much so we bought a few bottle at Napa Style after our incredibly delicious lunch. Michael has signed every bottle that is sold in Napa Style.

David and I enjoying the Zin while waiting for our appetizer selections.

Sarah enjoying the Zin as well.

Chef Chiarello works his restaurant at least 6 days a week. We were fortunate enough to get to see him while dining there. I am a long time fan of his from La Trigvine (not sure I have the spelling correct) restaurant in Napa, his cooking shows on Food Network, his cookbooks and most recently he was on Bravo Master Chef's and won so he will be returning for the grand challenge against other top winning chefs. (He is a cutie, isn't he?)

We ordered two appetizers to share. The first was Bruschetta Trio Roasted rapini salsa rossa, and pecorino, braised artichoke and Toscanello white beans, carrot and eggplant caponata with goat cheese. wonderful fresh flavors.

The second was Monterrey calamari, crisped with Arborio rice flour with aioli nero (lemon aioli with squid ink). This appetizer was to die for. Amazingly light but crisp coating on the calamari pieces, and the squid ink in the lemon aioli was brilliant. I would go back just to have this appetizer.
The aioli nero.
David with black lips from the squid ink.

There are pictures of our three entree choices Sarah took, but we didn';t have the appropriate cord to get them onto our computer so she is going to email them to me when she gets home. When I receive them I will share them here. Chef Chiarello uses fresh local ingredients and his dishes have the Italian flair of his heritage and wine country nuances. This was a perfect lunch for our day in Napa Valley. I am already thinking what I will order the next time we are there. When you are planning a trip to the Napa Valley seriously consider making reservations for lunch or dinner at Bottega in Yountville. You won't be disappointed.