Pumpkin Risotto with Burrata, Fried Sage

Pumpkin Risotto Stuffed with Burrata, Fried Sage

Smoky Pumpkin Risotto with Burrata
Crumbled Fried Sage

Happy Halloween! The culinary SORCERESS has a real TREAT to share in the SPIRIT of the holiday…a SMOKY creamy pumpkin risotto in which she BURIES a MONSTROUS wedge of burrata. This TRICK she learned from gastronomic WIZARD two-star Michelin chef Julian Serrano. He SUBMERGES burrata under his BLOOD-RED Risotto Al Vino Rosso at restaurant Lago in Las Vegas.

BEWARE,  this dish is only for those with a GHOULISH ATTRACTION to fresh mozzarella cheese stuffed with heavy cream, aka burrata. Topped with crumbled fried sage, it is a BEWITCHING seasonal risotto and so FRIGHTFULLY good.

Smoky Pumpkin Risotto Recipe

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“End of Summer Rolls” Caprese-Style

"End of Summer Rolls" Caprese-Style

“End of Summer Rolls” Caprese-Style

Heirloom Tomato, Burrata, Basil, Rice Noodle
Olive Oil & Balsamic Vinegar

Perhaps you’ve heard me bemoan the ubiquitous Caprese Salad and all its incarnations?

Caprese grilled cheese, caprese kabobs, caprese bruschetta, caprese pasta salad, caprese pizza, caprese schmaese. But when I was challenged to come up with a tomato dish by our friendly Creative Cooking Crew, forgive me but I turned to those very Caprese ingredients. After all, there truly is something magical about the classic pairing of tomato and mozzarella and basil. Especially in summer. And what better way to bid farewell to the fabulous Summer of 2014, than with Caprese Summer Rolls – light, fresh, refreshing. These hand-held bites capture summer’s waning days in a tidy rice paper wrapper.

"End of Summer Rolls" Caprese-Style

Caprese Summer Rolls Recipe

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Korean Fusion: Lettuce Wraps with Burrata, Shishito, Anchovy

Korean Fusion: Lettuce Wraps with Burrata, Shishito, Anchovy

Korean Fusion:

Lettuce Wraps with Burrata, Shishito Pepper, Stir-Fried Anchovy

Sangchu Ssam with Burrata, Kkwarigochu, Myulchi Bokkeum

상추쌈과 부라타 치즈, 꽈리고추, 멸치 볶음

Enamored with the Korean side dish, myulchi bokkeum, I set out to create a hand-held appetizer for our next dinner party.

Myulchi bokkeum (stir-fried anchovy) is positively addicting. Tiny crisp anchovies are tossed in a sweet, sticky, garlicky sauce. Kkwarigochu (shishito peppers) are blistered in a hot pan with a bit of oil. Kkwarigochu are thin-walled mild peppers with a fresh green vegetal flavor and just a whisper of heat. Every once in a while, though, you’ll come across a hot one! Beware…

Anchovies with peppers is a classic Korean banchan (side-dish). Burrata, a heavenly fresh mozzarella that is stuffed with a mixture of shreds of cheese and heavy cream. Pair them together in a lettuce wrap for a bite of fusion paradise. The textures of butter lettuce and soft cheese are contrasted by the crunchy anchovies. Savory salty flavors are balanced by sweet and creamy notes in a delightful little package. It’s sure to be a hit!

Lettuce Wraps with Burrata, Shishito Pepper, Stir-Fried Anchovy Recipe

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The Gratitude Tree & Holiday Appetizers

The Gratitude Tree
The Gratitude Tree

After a decade of sharing our Thanksgiving gratitude on place-cards, we have a spiffy new ambassador for sharing our thankfulness! It’s a Gratitude Tree. In the past, we would put a place-card and pen on the table at every setting. During the beginning of the meal everyone was encouraged to write their sentiments on the card. We saved these cards year after year so each guest could reflect on past years’ appreciation.

This year everyone gets a personalized paper leaf on which they can express their gratitude. Then after dinner, the leaves are hung on the tree. Guests can read and share tributes throughout the week. We’ll save the leaves, which will re-appear on the tree in years to come…as our tree blooms with an abundance of joy, thankfulness, and gratefulness.

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heirloom tomato salad, burrata, pistachio relish

Sliced Green Zebra &  Orange Heirloom Tomatoes
Fresh Burrata Cheese
Pistachio, Caper, Shallot, Green Peppercorn Relish
Chiffonade of Fresh Basil

Pistachio Relish

Inspired by the July issue of Food & Wine magazine, this is one of many crazy good recipes we prepared on our recent vacation in Oregon. The issue featured “best new chefs & their simplest recipes.” Right up our vacation alley!

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“Mediterranean on the Pacific”

“Mediterranean on the Pacific”
Sunken City Supper Club
Summer Soirée

The Sunken City Supper Club is a fresh, local and secret place to seasonally mingle with friends and neighbors – to enjoy the camaraderie, great food, wine, and the awesome intimate jazz standards performed by local musicians Barry Anthony and Bill Ryan. We hold one event per season, and the menu always reflects seasonal ingredients. Our Sunken City Supper Club events feature a five course fixed menu plus our signature amuse bouche and unique sherry courses.

Supper Clubbers Sally & Al, with a great view!

The 24 guests are emailed the menu in advance so they can bring wines to complement the dinner. The Sunken City Supper Club is a “moveable feast” – the location varies. The Summer Soirée was held at the beautiful home of our friends Gina & Van overlooking the ocean in Rancho Palos Verdes, California. The summer menu features many seasonal summertime ingredients typically served along the Mediterranean Sea. The table setting, decor, and colors enhanced the Mediterranean theme.

We are especially proud of this recent dinner, as we have now completed a full year’s cycle of seasonal events:

Over the year we have learned how to run a “restaurant” out of a home kitchen, held many experimental test kitchen dinners, honed our timing skills, gained a new appreciation for that second refrigerator, made new foodie friends, and had a blast! We look forward to another year of Sunken City Supper Club seasonal events!

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Capture Summer in a Little Glass Jar


CAPRESE VERRINE
Tomato Water Gelée, Burrata Cheese
Olive Oil, Chiffonade of Basil

Fans of the ubiquitous Insalata Caprese made with fresh buffalo mozzarella, tomatoes, basil, and olive oil will go wild over our unique Caprese Verrine. Freshly extracted tomato water combined with sea salt and gelatin when chilled, creates a smooth gelée that melts on the tongue tasting of pure tomato flavor, and pure summer heaven! Layered with chopped burrata – fresh mozzarella stuffed with “rags” of mozzarella and heavy cream with all its wonderful delicate creamy, sweet, sour, and earthy flavors. Finished with fresh basil from the garden and our favorite fruity olive oil from California Olive Ranch – this little 2 oz. verrine is our new darling for summer entertaining.

We served the Caprese Verrine as the amuse bouche at our recent Sunken City Supper Club event, “Mediterranean on the Pacific.” It was a fabulous start to an amazing al fresco summer dinner…

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Burrata Pizza and Thanksgiving Thoughts

My two favorite holidays are Thanksgiving and Passover. No wonder! It is because I cook big meals for family and friends at both. I was just looking at my photographs from last year. Please, come reminisce with me…

I get plenty of pizza dough for the week from the local Italian market so I can make pizza with my nephews while they are here visiting. It has become a tradition. And late Friday night after Thanksgiving last year, the adults had burrata pizza with the remaining pizza dough as we relaxed and drank Champagne.
Another tradition we have here is called “Leftover Day.” Family and friends are invited to come by from 1 to 5 PM the day after the big feast to eat leftovers, drink Bloody Marys, and chill out. This year, I have a new basketball court so everyone can shoot some hoops! Whoo Hoo! We get a HoneyBaked Ham so if anyone is done with turkey, have ham! And everyone is encouraged to bring their leftovers. We heat them up and put them on the buffet too. Additionally this year I promised my brother I would have a panini maker, so we can make some awesome turkey or ham sandwiches with all those leftover goodies smashed and grilled together.

OK, back to burrata pizza. Top the dough with a mixture of olive oil, chopped parsley, and garlic, then sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake until just slightly crispy, remove from the oven, then top with burrata. Big hit! Other ways we enjoyed burrata last year can be found here.

Ha! I am sending this photo to my blogger friend Sandi at Whistlestop Cafe Cooking for her Centerpiece of the Month Event. Every year this ROCK gets big laughs. Yes, it is just a rock I found on the beach but its place card gives everyone a good chuckle on Bird Day. To see some really beautiful centerpieces, do check out Sandi’s monthly event!

This is another laugh I get every year. I spend a good deal of time on the appetizers; including fine cheese platters, homemade dips, and barbecuing fresh oysters. But do you know what disappears first? Lil’ Smokies with two sauces: BBQ sauce and a blend of mustard and mayo. Some things never change. Maybe you have a similar experience?

This is another one of my photos from last year. My nephew Stone and my little pooch Mrs. O’Mally had a special connection. On this morning, Stone, in his pajamas, is just sitting on the couch rubbing her belly. She passed away on October 22, 2008. Everyone will miss her this year, I suspect Stone and myself most of all.

Here on the Saturday morning after Thanksgiving, Stone says goodbye to Mally as the family is getting ready to catch their plane back to Chicago. She was always so relaxed with him. He carried her around all week. It was a very special bond.
Wishing you all a wonderful holiday season this year. And to my blogger friends, I so look forward to reading about your holiday recipes and parties. Ah, Thanksgiving – I am so grateful for the reminder to give thanks for blessings great and small.

Burrata! Three Ways!

“Burrata is to mozzarella as foie gras is to chicken liver.” Russ Parsons

Burrata – fresh mozzarella stuffed with “rags” of mozzarella and heavy cream. It is a regional speciality in Italy, from the area around Bari. It is always served raw, cool, but not too cold, so all the wonderful delicate creamy, sweet, sour, and earthy flavors come through.

Keep it simple!
In a salad: Burrata on freshly made chilled tomato sauce, over arugula dressed with olive oil.

I make the tomato sauce with olive oil heated gently with garlic and red pepper flakes. Then I add crushed Italian tomatoes and finish with fresh basil, and sea salt.

On bruschetta, with high quality olive oil, sea salt and fresh ground pepper.

A combination I heard about from Valentino restaurateur, Piero Selvaggio. He says he likes his burrata topped with caviar.

So…I gave that a try. Here the burrata is topped with ikura (salmon roe). It was fabulous!

We had a great time learning how to make fresh mozzarella and burrata while attending the Cal Poly Farmstead Cheesemaker course which I highly recommend for those with a passion for cheese.

Burrata tip: use a serrated knife to cut the ball into quarters.

POST post 11/18:
A Burrata Bonus – Burrata Four Ways!
After posting about this delicious cheese, we went to dinner at Melisse Restaurant in Santa Monica. Chef Josiah had burrata on the menu…his was heavenly, topped with an ethereal basil foam.