The first blooms of jasmine kind of make me want to stay in California forever. I love how spring comes alive in a tidal rush here. It’s so different from the trickle of crocus that would spread slowly across our New York garden. I still haven’t quite figured out gardening on our shaded terrace, but I will.
We started our Easter with amazing almond pancakes. I didn’t have the recommended blanched almond flour, but using almond meal. It still worked well. They reminded me of Rhode Island Johnny Cakes, with the texture of coarse cornmeal. The almond meal was perfectly toasty when browned on a well oiled cast iron griddle. This recipe takes a whole tablespoon of vanilla extract. Fortunately, we made tons of bottles at Christmas. It was sort of an investment in our baking future. At least that’s how I justified buying half a pound of wholesale vanilla beans. J is a pancake fiend and loved these cakes. I’m sure they will be added to our Sunday breakfast rotation.
Recipe slightly adapted from Comfy Tummy
1 1/2 cups almond meal (or blanched almond flour)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup almond milk
oil to brush skillet
Combine the dry ingredients, make a well in the center and add wet ingredients. Combine well and cook over medium low heat using about 3 tablespoons per pancake. Turn as soon as the cakes are firm enough to flip. Serve warm.
I found this recipe made about 11 small pancakes.
There is snow still on the ground this morning, enough snow for a white Christmas. It started late last night, and it was perfect.
I hope everyone has a wonderful day. Merry Christmas to all!
We had no particular plan for our drive down Highway 1, with the exception of seeing the ocean. After making it to Big Sur and wandering around the village of Carmel, we decided to stay for an early dinner. Carmel is remarkably pet friendly, meaning there are dogs everywhere. Knowing this, we brought out little dog, Phoebe, along for the ride. I read a few comments that joked Carmel is a town that is perhaps more pet-friendly than child-friendly. After wandering around the shops, there may be some truth to this rumor.
We were lucky to snag table at Basil before the rush of 6 o’clock reservations arrived. Basil is notably family and dog friendly (outdoors, of course). In fact, the welcoming staff brought Phoebe some dog biscuits as soon as we sat down. The outside tables are lined down a cozy alley under super warm heat lamps. They even offered blankets for those that were still cold. J and I loved the local menu with vegan options. He had a few helpings of their signature basil spread on fresh bread while we waited for our salads.
I had the grilled Monterey squid appetizer. It was perfectly cooked and served atop eggplant caponata with raisins and pine nuts. Squid and eggplant are a fantastic combination in my book. The sweetness of the golden raisins and balsamic drizzle were a nice complement to the grilled smokiness and slight char. It was a happily huge portion for an appetizer.
J had the vegan parpadelle with cranberry beans, tomato and fresh garlic. Their menu noted the chef would make vegan/vegetarian substitutions when possible. The waiter double checked and quickly confirmed this could be made vegan. It is always nice to go to a restaurant that can cheerfully accommodate both food sensitivities and dogs.
We loved Basil, and will definitely be back when we are in the area for another dose of beach views. Our meal came to around $30 (salads, appetizer, dinner, no alcohol). Reservations are probably best for dining after 6pm.
Basil is located on San Carlos Between Ocean & 7th,. Carmel By The Sea, 93921
Disclaimer: I was not paid or compensated in any way for this post. All opinions are my own.
Today was one of those rare days when we didn’t have anything planned. We just drove south, and then we kept driving…all the way to Big Sur. It had seemed too far until we were in the car and just needed to see what was a little further down the road.
Despite all the traffic on the one lane road near the impressive Bixby Creek Bridge, the beaches were surprisingly quiet.
We wandered through the trails around the beaches in Carmel until it was nearly dusk. It felt like an afternoon vacation and a much needed pause.
I’ve been putting pumpkin in everything this week, including the bundt cake pictured above. I’m going to continue posting turkey and pumpkin things this week. This Thanksgiving, I am actually roasting my first whole turkey. After giving entirely too much thought to brining, I decided to go with a simplified version of Alton Brown’s method. He hasn’t steered me wrong in the past. Best wishes for a wonderful Thanksgiving!
I spent most of my week in front of a computer or working my way through a stack of books, but it started out with a trip to the farmers’ market.
These English peas were enormous. The photo doesn’t really do them justice.
I bought another Kabocha Squash because I am going to make this recipe until they have disappeared from the market. It is so incredibly good! Kabocha Squash tastes like a cross between a pumpkin and a chestnut. When roasted, they are basically the ideal fall side dish.
I missed our famers’ market last weekend, but I was determined to take a pause from working on projects to make it today. These Concord grapes were as close to perfect as we have had this season. My grandfather had tons of Concord grapes growing along a fence line at his house. They always seemed so special because we knew you couldn’t find them at the grocery store.
I was surprised to see persimmons in the market today. It seems early, no? The one I bought was perfectly ripe. Yes, I showed restraint and only bought one. I am thinking of trying to make a persimmon jam of some kind though…
When we were in Japan last month, I had this delicious squash, and I wasn’t sure what it was called. Japanese people kept telling me it was called a pumpkin in English. Well, it turns out it was a Kabocha squash, which is a type of Japanese Pumpkin. I was excited to see one at the market today. I have it sliced and am planning on using this recipe from Nom Nom Paleo. The oven is heating up now!
I had been meaning to make the drive up to Gather since I saw it on Check Please!, Bay Area. J and I celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary this past weekend. We aren’t big into gifts and a dinner out has marked each of our previous anniversaries. On the show, Gather looked like just our kind of place with interesting local food and dairy-free options. I knew I would have to order the Vegan Charcuterie after seeing it on the show, and I suspected he would try the Vegan Pizza.
We are somewhat predictable with our choices, but we were not disappointed. We started with the Vegan Charcuterie. The photo above has our favorite selection from the plate: Smoked Cashew with tomato strawberry mole, habanero and pickled carrots. I may have had more than my fair share. The plate also had Heirloom Tomato with seaweed ranch, tomato hot sauce and tofu skin, Smoked Gravenstein Apples with wine grapes, walnut juice and lemon verbena chili and Watermelon and Figs with olives, fig barbeque sauce and dulse. The combinations really weren’t as strange as they may sound. We especially loved the crispy tofu skin!
J defiled his Spicy Vegan Pizza by ordering it with an egg on top. He said it was probably the best vegan pizza he has had and it would be even better topped with pancetta.
I had the Eggplant Bolognese with caponata, and I absolutely loved it. This was a dish for someone who really loves eggplant, which I do. It was pretty much eggplant wrapped in eggplant topped with eggplant. I have no problem with this combination. In fact, I may try to recreate it at home.
We were admittedly pretty full, but we weren’t really tempted by any of the dessert options. They did score bonus points with us for having almond milk lattes though…and look at the prettiness. I’m a sucker for prettiness.
Overall, we really loved Gather. We spent about $45 dollars per person without alcohol. For the excellent food, knowledgeable waitstaff (so important with food sensitivities) and a fun atmosphere, I think it is a pretty good value relative to the price. J’s love of the pizza and Gather’s proximity to Games of Berkeley (nerd alert!) pretty much ensure we will be back in the relative near future.
Gather is located at 2200 Oxford Street Berkeley, CA 94704
Disclaimer: I was not paid or compensated in any way for this post. All opinions are my own.
After a relaxing day yesterday, we made a quick stop at the farmer’s market this morning before the craziness of the week creeps in to this afteroon. I really want some tomatoes, and I felt like buying a fresh almond milk smoothie rather than making one. Grape season is in full swing here, and it is amazing how many different kinds were out, including these tiny sweet Thompsons.
This was the first week I have seen pomegranates at the market. I am surprised how often I see them growing in people’s front yards in the bay area. Maybe they are easier to grow than I thought? I guess they are another thing I can add to my future tiny farm list.
I have half of these tomatoes roasting in the oven as I type this. They are destined for a Tomato Dill Soup (recipe to follow). I found out I have one less thing to do this week, which is a welcome relief. My to-do list is piling up quickly, as it always seems to this time of year.
After an amazing vacation it was nice to be back to normal things like the Sunday Farmers’ Market, baking and long wandering walks around town. I wanted to grab armfuls of these dahlias and bring them home.
We went the more practical route with string beans. Although, I did pick up the black ones. I may pick up the striped ones next week. I’m thinking they will probably be served with garlic, ginger and sesame oil. We have really developed a partiality to all green drinks. J got some kind of ginger green juice, and I went for a green smoothie. So good.
I saw these Jujube Chinese dates, but I really don’t have any idea what to do with them. I tasted them, and had even less of a clue.
On our walk, we passed on of the many fig trees with little fruit starting sprouting out on the branches. If I ever have a yard or a patio, I plan on doing my best to get one to thrive. My Italian grandmother grew them in the city. They were working class immigrants, but it seems the height of luxury to have fresh figs in one’s backyard.
(From Sunday…but things were down here yesterday!)