Young Victorians

Living with friends in a pink Victorian house on top of a hill in San Francisco.

Birthday Pasta and the End of Harvest

 

Last weekend, I went home to Spokane to celebrate my father’s birthday. The big 5-5! I’ll admit, however, my motivations were not purely inspired by filial devotion–I also wanted to catch one of the last weekends of Harvest. Now that my mother is empty nester, she has become organic tomato farmer extraordinaire. She starts her tomatoes in a greenhouse months before the seedlings are planted outside; by the end of the summer, my parents have more tomatoes than they know what to do with. To that end, my father decided to experiment with a sun- (or in this case, oven-) dried tomato recipe. Delicious. So to celebrate his birthday and the end of Harvest, I cranked out some homemade pasta and whipped up a sun-dried tomato pesto. We had a fantastic weekend, and on my last night, the first frost of the season occurred. I’m so glad I was able to make it home just in the nick of time. You can find the recipe for sun-dried tomato pesto after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »

The San Franciscan Salad–Figs, Of Course

A couple  years ago, David Chang, the genius behind the Momofuku group, slammed the San Franciscan food scene at the New York Food & Wine Festival. The King of Ramen complained, “Fuckin’ every restaurant in San Francisco is just serving figs on a plate. Do something with your food.” Whoa there, watch your language Chef!

Figs do heavy lifting on SF menus in the late summer / early fall. But rightfully so–the combination is delicious. And there aren’t many places in the world where you can eat fresh, local figs harvested the same day. And so when I saw panachée figs at the Noe Valley Farmer’s Market, I grabbed a pint.  Having recently purchased Yotam Ottolenghi’s new cookbook, Plenty, I decided to try his fig salad. You can find the modified recipe after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »

Finally an Authentic Victorian


After a month of living out of boxes and suitcases, I’m almost a civilized human being again. I’m functionally unpacked, and have even half stocked the kitchen. Since I’ve graduated college, I’ve moved from cramped apartment to cramped apartment. Most didn’t have much charm, let alone a dishwasher. That was until two weeks ago, when I moved into a large, historic Victorian on top of one of the most scenic hills in San Francisco. I’m not sure I can go back to apartment living; it’s just too nice to wake up in a real house, with a front porch and back yard, and enjoy a long cup of tea in the sunroom. All while living in a world class city. While there is still much to do on the decorating front, I wanted to share a picture of my current favorite room–the reading nook. Large windows and walls of books–what more could I ever want?

So to celebrate my move and San Francisco’s annual Indian Summer, I threw an impromptu dinner party for my friend Peter’s birthday. I’m afraid my recently hectic life was reflected in rather disjointed menu : Fig and Ricotta Salad, Roasted Red Pepper Soup with Corn and Cilantro, Roasted Brussel Sprouts and Prosecco & Raspberry Gelee. But when the ingredients are fresh and your friends are too kind to say anything, it works out deliciously.

It’s getting late and I’m starving (the pictures above aren’t helping!), so recipes and more photos of the new house to come later this week.

Primly,
Ella

Balsamic Strawberries and Mascarpone Cream Dessert

When I’m hosting a dinner party, I try to serve seasonal, simple desserts. I like to allocate most of my time on the main course and I prefer desserts that don’t require much labor after my guests arrive, particularly in the summer. I often finding myself serving berries with mascarpone cream. For those of you who aren’t familiar with mascarpone, it’s essentially Italian cream cheese. Delicious! At my last dinner party, I complemented the mascarpone cream with strawberries dressed in balsamic vinegar (delightful combination for those who haven’t tried it yet!), but you can really serve this cream with any berries. I topped it with a lemon, lime, basil shortbread cookie. My guests loved the dessert, and in total, in took less than 30 minutes to prepare, all of which can be do the day before. Find the recipe after the jump.  

Read the rest of this entry »

Two Tomato Based Pasta Sauces, One Dinner Party

Since I was serving my guests a rather simple meal, I decided to elevate the pasta to dinner party status by dressing it with two sauces. Fancy, fancy. The sauce on the left is probably the most famous sauce on the internet, which is quite the feat as it only calls for 3 ingredients (tomatoes, an onion, and butter). This recipe has been so well documented, I won’t bother typing it out again. You can find it on Food 52, Smitten Kitchen, The Amateur Gourmet, Orangette, and Rachel Eats. Give it a try! On the right side of the plate in the photo above, I topped the pasta with cherry tomatoes roasted in maple syrup. The result is a elegant and simple sauce with surprisingly complex flavors. You can find the recipe below. Read the rest of this entry »

Learning to Make Homemade Pasta from my Jewish Boyfriend’s Father

Lee in the Kitchen

I’ve long been obsessed with homemade pasta. The texture and taste of a fresh pasta just can’t be matched by a dry pasta, no matter how much you spend. I assumed since I don’t  have a charming Italian grandmother to pass down a family recipe, I’d never be able to make homemade pasta myself. That was until I was served homemade pasta at a non-Italian friend’s house. From then on, it was game-on.

Last Hanukkah, I gifted my parents the Marcato Atlas pasta maker. My sister and I spent  the next few days in Spokane attempting to make pasta. We struggled with the pasta dough and found cranking and feeding the pasta maker to be a rigorous, two person job. While we ended up with delicious pasta, it was an all day affair.

I recently gifted myself the Kitchen Aid Pasta Excellence set–essentially a pasta maker where a stand mixer does all the manual work :) Some may call it cheating, but I like to save arm exercises for the gym.  While I no longer struggled manipulating  the pasta maker, I stilled needed help with my pasta dough. It was either crumbling apart (too dry) or sticking to everything (too wet). My boyfriend suggested I consult his father, Lee, who had been experimenting with pasta for years. After all, who needs an Italian grandmother when your Jewish boyfriend’s father has mastered the art of pasta making?

Lee is a purist and only uses eggs and flour in his dough. His trick is to begin with the eggs rather than building a flour well. It is much easier to calibrate how much flour is required for the eggs rather than vice versa. In general, you will need one egg per person. After lightly beating the eggs, you then add the flour. Beginning with 3/4 cups of flour per egg, gradually stir in more flour and knead until the dough is no longer sticky to touch. When you reach this desired consistency,  knead for 2-3 minutes, and then let the pasta dough rest in a ball for 20 minutes. From this point on, follow your pasta maker’s directions for rolling and cutting the dough. My only advise is don’t be afraid to add more flour throughout the process if your dough is still the least bit sticky; otherwise, when you cut the pasta, it will curl up.

Lee taught me so well that I was able to serve homemade pasta at our last dinner party and our guests were impressed. Who wouldn’t appreciate homemade pasta at a dinner party? The sauces were also winners, but you’ll have to wait until tomorrow for those recipes.

Thanks again Lee (and Cynthia) for sharing with me the secret to hassle free, delicious homemade pasta. I have a feeling this is a recipe I’ll be making on a weekly basis for many years to come.

Primly,
Ella

(photos by juliette and my handsome boyfriend)

Summer Sunday Dinner Party

Juliette and I hosted a mid-summer dinner party at my apartment a few Sundays ago. Sharing homemade food, wine and laughs with good friends in the perfect way to end the weekend.

On the menu:

Heirloom Tomato Salad
Homemade Pasta, Two Ways
Balsamic Strawberries with Mascarpone Cream and a Lemon Lime Basil Shortbread Cookie

Recipes, diy decoration instructions and more photos to come later this week!

Primly,
Ella

(photos by juliette tang)

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