Well Dined

20Nov/140

Atelier Crenn – San Francisco

While we were in San Francisco visiting family, Jasper and I wanted to have a nice date night to ourselves to try one of the many Michelin rated restaurants.  We choose Atelier Crenn, a 2-star restaurant with a seasonal and locally sourced menu written in the form of a poem.  Yes, it is a little bit silly and pretentious to present your menu as a poem, but chef/owner Dominique Crenn seems to have some reasons for doing it.  Crenn hails from Versailles, France, where her father had a painting workshop (called an "atelier").  She considers her restaurant to be her own artist's studio (hence the name), with the plate as a blank canvas, and the ingredients as the paint.  So perhaps we can consider it to be more artsy than pretentious.  And it did provide a fun game to try and figure out what would be in the next course based on the poem.

From the website: "Poetic Culinaria: Atelier Crenn, a painting. An empty white canvas. With tools... a brush, paint and a vision, creativity is given its breath. Here, from this place, the artist can suggest emotion. A lasting moment from childhood... little drawers of heartbeats."

Crenn seems to be inspired by her childhood and her father, whose paintings decorate the restaurant.  Playfulness and nature are the overriding themes of the menu we received, which I have copied below:

Summer has come and is full of sweet surprises
Under the midnight glow, I can taste the sweetness of the sea,
hear mellow serenades of colors licorice and orange
I touch the earth and play
Where the broad ocean leans against the Spanish land,
I remember an oceanic feeling
Here, the earth proffers its juicy, vermilion gifts
and above, the half moon floats, silky and smoky
In its cool, milky light,
the forest still radiant with possibility
Nature rejoice! chasing childhood memories
Feeling the black sand under my toes, I dreamed of
these creatures' languid movements
Walking deep in the woods, as the earth might have something to spare
bird song, see the water rippling from their visit
a token of the summer
Summer has come, the sea beckons
sweetness, bounty, thanks

13Nov/141

Roasted Autumn Vegetable Pot Pies

Well Dined | Roasted Autumn Vegetable Pot Pies

Melissa and I are back at it!  This time it is with a super delicious, and seasonally appropriate, roasted vegetable pot pie that is super comforting and filling.  I think even meat eaters will love it - seriously!  If you think about it, there isn't that much chicken in a regular pot pie, and it is in tiny cubes that sort of blend in with everything else.  So who's gonna miss it?  Not me!  Especially not when you top it with a killer rosemary and black pepper crust.  I'm not kidding, you guys, this crust is awesome.  I want to use it for all kinds of savory tart type things.  This recipe is labor intensive, so give yourself time.  Or make it with a buddy!

Well Dined | Roasted Autumn Vegetable Pot Pies

So, first step - make the dough for the crust.  This involves flour, butter, buttermilk, egg yolks, and (most importantly) rosemary and black pepper.  Crack that black pepper yourself, you want the flavor and the unevenly sized bits.  The crust is what makes this dish special, so don't skip it!

Well Dined | Roasted Autumn Vegetable Pot Pie

Next, cut up those veggies!  So, so many veggies.  We made a lot of editorial choices with this recipe - eliminate pumpkin (who needs it when there is also butternut squash?), boost the brussels, etc...  Afterwards we realized (per Melissa's husband) that replacing the carrots with parsnips would have added a nice pepperiness to balance the sweetness of the squash.  Good idea, Dave!

6Nov/140

San Francisco

Well Dined

You guys, I have been in such a writing funk since I have gotten back from vacation.  I don't know what is going on!  But I do want to tell you about the restaurants we visited while we were in San Francisco, and I will try to post more frequently from now on.  Kailey, my sister-in-law (who we were visiting), is a chef in SF (here; that's her at 0:35 and 1:35), so we let her take us on a culinary tour of her favorite spots.  But I determined on our first day that I was just going to enjoy the vacation and not worry about taking photos.  So I don't have any food photos to show you, sorry!

Well Dined | View from Hotel Drisco

View from our room

Before we get to food, I should mention that we stayed at the Hotel Drisco and really enjoyed it.  We had a corner room on the top floor and the views were amazing - we could see Alcatraz, the Golden Gate Bridge, and most of the city.  All the windows really helped because, like many older buildings in the city, Drisco has no air conditioning.  Opening all the windows made for a lovely cross-breeze, though it was too noisy to leave them open at night.  The hotel includes a continental breakfast, and I am not talking about just cereal and muffins.  They have all kinds of pastries with homemade jams, spreads, and toppings.  Also fresh juices, cereal, yogurt, bagels, fruit salad, hot oatmeal, smoothies, salami and cheese, hard boiled eggs, and antipasto style veggies.  In addition to various coffee blends, they will also make espresso drinks to order.  It is a very nice perk.  They also have a wine tasting every evening with cheese and salami, coffee all day, free wifi, free bikes, and the staff are very friendly and helpful.

Well Dined | View from Hotel Drisco

View from our room

2Oct/140

Pasta with Sausage and Peppers

Well Dined | Pasta with Sausage and Peppers

If you've been wondering where I've been for the past 2 weeks, the answer is - vacation!  I will be writing about that for sure, but before I get to it I want to talk about this pasta that I made before we left.  My friend Melissa (you know her by now) was also going out of town, a little before we were, and gifted me several of her home-grown bell peppers and tomatoes.  I wanted to use them to do a take on sausage and peppers in pasta form because I'm, well, me.

Well Dined | Pasta with Sausage and Peppers

So I browned some sliced sausage, and then threw in an onion, the peppers, and the tomatoes to saute.  Then I tossed in cooked whole wheat penne along with pasta water, a splash of cream, and some Parmesan to make a sauce.  And finally, I topped it with some fresh basil and parsley.  Fast, easy, and hearty.  Thanks Melissa!

12Sep/140

Tortellini with Vegetables and Meatballs

Well Dined | Tortellini with Vegetables and Meatballs

I have been really busy and traveling a lot lately, I haven't really been cooking much.  When I do, it is usually a quick throw together of some type of pasta, vegetable, and protein.  This particular version consisted of tri-color cheese tortellini, heirloom tomato, yellow zucchini, spinach, turkey meatballs, goat cheese, and fresh herbs.

Well Dined | Tortellini with Vegetables and Meatballs

While the water for the pasta was boiling, I sliced the zucchini and chopped the tomato and an onion.  I sauteed the onion and zucchini in some goat butter, then added the spinach and let it wilt.  I added the cooked tortellini on top with a little pit of pasta water (which helped with the wilting), then threw in the fresh tomatoes and took it off the heat.

Well Dined | Tortellini with Vegetables and Meatballs

Lastly I added some frozen turkey meatballs that I had heated in the microwave (I know, I know - I was in a hurry okay?), some crumbled goat cheese, and some fresh basil and parsley.  This was super easy and came together in less than 30 minutes.  Plus there was enough other stuff going on to distract my husband from the vegetables - score!

8Sep/141

Chocolate Sour Cream Bundt Cake

Well Dined | Chocolate Sour Cream Bundt Cake

When I first bought my bundt cake pan from Williams Sonoma, I kept the recipe from the back of the box - a big square of cardboard hanging around in my cabinets for years.  I was rearranging my bakeware the other day and decided it was finally time to try the recipe, if only so that I could get rid of that piece of cardboard.

Well Dined | Chocolate Sour Cream Bundt Cake

But holy moly, you guys, this thing was awesome!  It is crazy rich and moist and dense and intensely chocolaty - even my cake obsessed husband could only eat a little slice at a time.  This is definitely a cake for sharing with friends, trust me, you cannot handle this cake alone.

Well Dined | Chocolate Sour Cream Bundt Cake

Part of what makes this cake so awesome is that it has multiple kinds of chocolate in it, the first being bars of semi-sweet baking chocolate.  I choose Ghirardelli because it seemed fancy to me and I was feeling fancy.  You will combine the baking chocolate with cocoa powder for double the chocolaty awesomeness and melt with hot water.

4Sep/140

Caprese Paninis

Well Dined | Caprese Panini

Melissa and I have been going through our recipes to see what areas we are lacking in, and sandwiches are definitely one of them.  She has been growing tomatoes and basil in her yard, which just beg to become caprese.  But instead of just making a salad, we tried to figure out how to turn it into a sandwich.  Melted cheese is clearly superior to un-melted cheese, so of course we made a panini!

Well Dined | Caprese Panini

We spread slices of Italian bread with basil mayonnaise, then layered in fresh mozzarella and balsamic marinated tomato slices (our attempt to get balsamic flavor without adding too much liquid) with fresh basil (you can't have enough basil).  Then we placed them on a panini grill and cooked until the cheese was melted and the outside was golden.

Well Dined | Caprese Panini

The sandwiches were so gooey and yummy - I loved it!  But the bottoms did get a little soggy, so next time I will toast the bread on one side before spreading the mayo on the toasted side, then putting the sandwich together and grilling as usual.  I think that this will help keep it from getting soggy.  I also might put basil mayo on the outside of the sandwich to help brown it up and because it is delicious.

23Aug/142

Pasta Salad with Smoked Gouda, Roasted Red Peppers, Fresh Tomatoes, and Grilled Artichoke Hearts

Well Dined | Pasta Salad with Smoked Gouda, Roasted Red Peppers, Fresh Tomatoes, and Grilled Artichoke Hearts
Last month, I signed up to bring pasta salad to a potluck.  In typical me fashion, I decided that I had to make it myself.  After cruising the internet for a bit, I came across a recipe with smoked gouda, which was all I needed to be sold.  Roasted red peppers and artichoke hearts?  Total bonus.
Well Dined | Pasta Salad with Smoked Gouda, Roasted Red Peppers, Fresh Tomatoes, and Grilled Artichoke Hearts
I choose to use gemelli for my pasta because it is my favorite and it is really structurally sound - it holds up to anything.  While that was boiling, I diced up my roasted peppers and artichoke hearts (I was lucky to find grilled ones at the store).  I had a couple of tomatoes hanging around, so I chopped those up and threw them in too.  After I rinsed the pasta in cold water (normally a big no-no, but good for pasta salads), I tossed it with the veggies and the cubed gouda.
Well Dined | Pasta Salad with Smoked Gouda, Roasted Red Peppers, Fresh Tomatoes, and Grilled Artichoke Hearts
Then came the dressing, where I inexplicably decided to take the opposite route and go quick and easy.  I used mayonnaise and bottled Italian dressing and it came out just right - light and flavorful.  You are of course welcome to make your own dressing from scratch.  Top with fresh herbs and go!  This is hearty and fresh and super yummy - it was very popular at the potluck, thank goodness!

6Aug/141

Zucchini Pizza with Burrata and Anchovy

Well Dined | Zucchini Pizza with Burrata and Anchovy

Fast, easy, simple, and perfect for summer - this pizza is creamy and fresh and super yummy.

Well Dined | Zucchini Pizza with Burrata and Anchovy

All pizza starts with dough, and I highly recommend the Jim Lahey no-knead recipe.  It comes out tender and crisp and full of air pockets.  You can see some bubbles in the dough in the photo above - that's the good stuff!  I do need to try and remember not to stretch it out too much, though.  I think I made the pizza a little too large this time.

http://welldined.com/2013/08/summer-pizzas.html

Top the dough with minced garlic, bits of anchovy, and a drizzle of olive oil.  The anchovy adds little pops of salty and umami flavors.  Along with the garlic, this richness is what elevates this pizza from being boring, do not skip!  Melissa (who I made this with), said that she might make it with capers instead of anchovies next time.  I think that is a really good suggestion for vegetarians who don't eat fish, but still want to get that briney flavor.

30Jul/141

Greek Style Zucchini Salad

Well Dined | Greek Style Zucchini Salad

On Monday, I promised you a recipe for the side dish I served with the Garlic Butter Salmon with Dill.  And here it is - a Greek style salad made with shredded raw zucchini, so healthy!  The dill in this dish helps tie it in with the flavors in the salmon (plus it helps me get rid of more dill).

Well Dined | Greek Style Zucchini Salad

The raw zucchini - along with mint, dill, green onions, and feta - is marinated in a dressing of olive oil, lemon juice and zest, and garlic.  The original recipe recommends chilling for several hours to allow the flavors to meld together, but we found that 30 minutes was enough.

Well Dined | Greek Style Zucchini Salad

This salad is bright and fresh, perfect on it's own or as a side.  Make it all summer, take it with you anywhere, and enjoy!