Saturday, October 8, 2011

Napa Day 1/2 - Fun Surprise (10/6/11)


I am currently on my annual Mother/Daughter trip; this years destination was Napa. The day started out early for both of us as we took painfully early flights to enjoy part of the afternoon in Napa.

Upon arriving at our booked hotel we were offered a proposition. The hotel was overbooked for Thursday night so they offered to put us up in a 5-star hotel (we had booked a 4-star) and cover the room night (thus refunding our first night). How could you pass this offer up???

During the 2-mile drive to the Meritage Resort and Spa I came up with a brilliant idea. Since we were not paying for our first night we should book massages at the Spa (this was most important since the flight added lots of new knots in my back). So upon arrival my first question was "what time do you have two appointments available". To my delight they had space for us at 6pm (we arrived around 2ish).

So the next obstacle to overcome was what are we going to do for the few hours before our massages? That choice was also fairly easy as the back of the resort is a wine cave tasting room. So we got to our room to freshen up a bit and then headed down to the wine cave to enjoy our first wine tasting.

The wine was called Trintas. They don't have their own winery (they source most of their grapes from around the area to make delicious wine). They did however have a few grapes growing above the cave for one of their wines (can't remember which varitial). Overall the wine was good!
After enjoying a glorious massage it was time to indulge in dinner. Prior to our trip I had made most of our dinner reservations for each night. Tonight I had a reservation at Morimoto. On my last trip to Napa (it was 1 day) I ate a delicious meal at Morimoto and I really wanted to go back.

This meal was extra special as chef Morimoto was in the restaurant that evening as well as a camera crew. We later found out that the camera crew was filming a very famous couple from Japan (someone compared them to Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie) and Morimoto was serving their food to them which was all being captured on film. It was kind of cool to see the whole thing go down (while knowing nothing about what they were doing or who they were).

We had an amazing dinner that consisted of - Tuna Pizza, Spicy Tuna Roll, Bim Bop (hot stone bowl that cooked the ingredients inside) and dessert doughnuts.


All-in-all a great first day. After the meal we went straight to bed to prepare for the next day's adventure!

*Please note all photos are from my iPhone and only lightly edited (I would obviously prefer to do more work to the photos but my desire to document the day won out)*

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Life here...iSad

I am surprisingly deeply saddened by the passing of Steve Jobs. I never knew him personally (obviously) and my only real connection to him is the amazing products he created (and I purchased...iPhone, iPod, iPod Shuffle, iMac, PowerBook, iPad, MacBook). In following his life story I have come across a few profound quotes that stopped and made me think. I wanted to capture a few quotes that struck me...

"Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life"

“Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me … Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful… that’s what matters to me.”

“My job is not to be easy on people. My jobs is to take these great people we have and to push them and make them even better.”

“You can’t just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new.”

“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.”

“I’m as proud of what we don’t do as I am of what we do.”

*Please note this is not my image, someone much more talented than I am thought to put his profile as the bite of the apple. I think its brilliant design!*

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Food and Celebration

I have had a lot of amazing things to celebrate in life, and really don't need anything big going on to cerate a celebration! However this past weekend we did have something BIG to celebrate; two of our friends recently got engaged.

We had been planning a make-your-own dinner party with our friends prior to the engagement so when they called to tell us the good news we turned the dinner party into a mini-celebration! We also all really like to cook so decided instead of going out to dinner we would make our own fabulous meal at our apartment! Everything we ate was homemade (including the bread and pasta) and was well worth all of the effort.

The meal was out-of-this-world good and I don't think we could have eaten better at a restaurant!

Homemade Epic Meal:
Homemade Simple Sourdough Bread
Spinach and Fetta stuffed Fetta Salmon
Sautéed Asparagus
Spinach and Parmesan (homemade) spagetti
Honey and Ricotta ravioli with a Strawberry Balsamic Glaze (Dessert)


Monday, October 3, 2011

French Toast - with Sourdough Bread

So for my three followers that are wondering if this is turning into a cooking blog my answer would be yes/no/yes/no??? I guess this blog was started to capture things that inspire me; and at the moment its cooking. Truly I am inspired by a lot of things, but my camera happens to be capturing beauty in food and the left side of my brain is feeling fulfilled by food creation so there you go. Don't worry, I have lots of non-cooking ideas of things to capture so for the three (maybe two of you that actually finish this post) of you that read this all I can say is stay tuned!

Now to the fabulous recipe! I used the leftover sourdough bread from our dinner on Saturday night to make this recipe on Sunday morning (when I say I, I cut the bread and my fabulous husband made the french toast)!

Ingredients -
Thick sliced bread
2 eggs
2/3 cup milk
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla extract
Salt to taste

Topping
Raspberries
Butter
Syrup

Directions -
  • Beat everything together
  • Heat griddle (or pan) on medium-high
  • Soak each bread slice in the egg mixture, soaking both sides thoroughly. Cook until golden brown
  • Top with desired toppings
  • Satisfy your hunger!

Don't these look absolutely delicious (they were, trust me)!!!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Simple Sourdough Bread

When we went to Blue Hill Stone Barn a few days ago (you can see photos here). One of my favorite things we had to eat (which didn't even count as one of the twelve courses) was their homemade sourdough potato onion bread. It was seriously one of the best pieces of bread I have ever had!

The next morning I decided I needed to attempt to recreate this bread so I started scouring the Internet for the perfect recipe. To my disappointment I could not really find one that was suitable to what I ate. Instead of just trying to make the recipe up on the spot (which is typically my tune) I decided to try to perfect the bread base (sourdough) and I will soon attempt to create the perfect potato onion sourdough bread. I found this great recipe from Emeril Lagasse, but made a few tweaks.

Simple Sourdough Starter:

In a large bowl, combine the water, yeast, and sugar. Let sit until the yeast becomes foamy (the way you can tell is if you watch it you can see the yeast almost explode up to the surface of the water), about 5 minutes. (If the yeast does not foam, discard the mixture and begin again with a new yeast.)

Add the flour and stir vigorously to work air into the mixture (aprox 5 or so minutes). Cover with a towel let rest in a warm, draft-free place (an oven with its pilot light or light bulb turned on works well) for 6 to12 hours. (The mixture should become very bubbly.) Use immediately - makes aprox 3 loaves of this bread recipe, but can be used for a variety of recipes!

Simple Sourdough Bread:

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cups bread flour (you can substitute regular flour if you want)
  • 1 1/2 cups sourdough starter (recipe above)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • Extra flour if necessary

Directions

In a Kitchen Aid mixer with the dough hook (if you don't have a kitchen aid then you can knead by hand), combine the flour, starter and salt, and knead until it no longer sticks to the sides or bottom of the mixing bowl (if it too dry place mixture on counter and knead in water as necessary to form a dough ball).

Place a lightly oiled bowl, turning to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let dough rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Sprinkle lightly with flour and knead gently, removing any large air bubbles. Knead into a small circle, then shape into a tight ball, pinching the seams together underneath. Place on a baking sheet, seam-side down. Cover with a kitchen towels and let rest until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. With a sharp, serrated knife, cut a large "X" or cross-hatch pattern into the top of the dough. Bake until golden brown and the bread sounds hollow when thumped on the bottom, about 60 minutes.

Remove the loaf from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes before serving.

The final product is AMAZING!
This bread was made for dinner - and the leftovers were used for french toast the next morning (that post is coming soon...)

An Epic Dinner

I had the pleasure of having dinner with great friends at Blue Hill Stone Barn on Friday (Sept 30) evening. If you ever get the chance I highly recommend experiencing this restaurant. They don't have menus you just choose if you would like five, eight or twelve courses and then they serve you what the chef has prepared! You can also choose the wine paring with each course (which we did) which greatly enhances the food. All of the food (almost) is grown on the farm and you only eat what is in season. Below are some photos of the farm and some pictures of our epic dining experience!