Little Gems

July 27th, 2017

While my mother might describe her two daughters as Little Gems, ChezHelvetica’s definition this evening focused on the vibrant green leaves with a sweet, buttery taste known by this name. But first, Rigatoni Pasta Pie in a Mug! Intrigued by this recipe spotted on Facebook several weeks ago (made with Marinara Sauce), the ingredients used in the warm introduction to this dinner were creamy Mushroom Soup, Mozzarella and Parmesan Cheeses, Basil and Barilla Rigatoni. Our centerpiece salad combined the delicious sweet and savory tastes of Little Gems, Herb Roasted Turkey Breast (using Rosemary, Sage and Thyme freshly plucked from the gardens and Acacia Chardonnay), Tory Farms Nectarines, Roasted Walnuts, Organic Celery and Italian Parsley. A simple Lemon Vinaigrette dressed the colorful salad, adding the perfect tang. For dessert, the sisters shared family stories while diving into a pint of Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia FroYo. You just can’t beat that!

 

 

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A Fabulous Fête

June 27th, 2017

A day of Degas, Impressionism, the Paris Millinery Trade and ChezHelvetica! French accents inspired a delightful gathering of very creative, dear friends known as the Cava Five. With namesake sparkling Cava Mimosas (or pure Segura Viudas Brut Cava) in hand, the party of delectable food and wine unfolded. The sweetest of Berries with red Grapefruit and Mint accompanied our entrée of Cinnamon Baked French Toast (made with Sour Bâtard) and savory thick cut Bacon – further elevated by pairing with elegant Henri Bourgeois Les Baronnes Sancerre. An incredible array of French Cheeses (Florette Goat, Belletoire Cow, Oussau Iraty Sheep, Gres Champenois Cow, and Camembert Cow) followed with the finest of French Chocolates and Macarons. Exquisite Louis Jadot Mâcon-Villages Chardonnay accompanied this final course. Then, off to the Legion of Honor to see the beautiful art exhibition – a French Kiss indeed!

 

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Graduation Eve

May 16th, 2017

Congratulations Parents of the Grad! ChezHelvetica welcomed Sister and Brother-In-Law with a celebratory dinner before the weekend ceremonies at UC Berkeley. Martha Stewart Living’s Everyday Food pullout (stained with olive oil after four years of continuous use) delivered the commencement meal of Pasta, Tuna, Capers and Tomatoes. It was like confetti in a bowl! Onions and sweet Cherry Tomatoes, sautéed in Olive Oil, and a creamy Parmesan Cheese Sauce created a fragrant bath for the Penne, Capers and oil-packed Tuna while Lemon zest and juice heightened the flavors of this mouth-watering dish. Avocado Dip with Sweet Potato Multi-Grain Chips and Kalamata Olives accompanied our entrée.  The bouquet of ripe tropical and citrus fruits in Nobilo Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand’s famed Marlborough region paired perfectly, offering a hint of the international travel on the horizon for our Grad. Finally, a towering, multi-layer Chocolate, Vanilla and Strawberry Cream-frosted Cake crowned this Cal celebration!

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Palm Sunday Passover Brunch

April 11th, 2017

Biblical tales converged at ChezHelvetica this Sunday as palm fronds cradled the Seder Plate (holding its symbols of Passover) and gilded envelope of Matzot. The incredible story of Exodus unfolded, yet this gathering broke with tradition as it was a day early and the menu featured brunch rather than dinner. Lemons with glitter glue initials showed guests (with Cava-sparkling Mimosas in hand) where to sit. Paula Shoyer’s The New Passover Menu provided delicious, innovative lunchtime recipes – from Fruit and Nut Granola (which replaced the usual Charoset), Frittata with Broccoli and Leeks, to Crumb Cake Muffins. The luscious Granola contained roasted Pecans, Almonds, Cashews, Walnuts and Coconut Flakes mixed with Raisins, Cranberries and Dates – all crowned with Fage Greek Yogurt and farmers-market Berries. Smoked Salmon (from Bryan’s Market) with Tomatoes, Red Onion and Dill accompanied the savory Frittata. The Muffins had a scrumptious Streusel topping with a soft cakey interior containing potato starch, making them Kosher for Passover. Velvety Rancho Sisquoc Pinot Noir from Santa Barbara County filled our cups, as well as Elijah’s. While my niece searched for the Afikomen, we devoured heavenly Noe Valley Bakery Coconut Macaroons and Chocolate Meringue Cookies along with San Francisco Bay French Roast Coffee. May this commemoration of the release of our ancestors from bondage be heard throughout the world today!

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Fancy Food For A Fancy Mom

February 16th, 2017

Behold ChezHelvetica’s sweet and savory Valentine’s Day celebration! Delicious finds from the Fancy Food Show, overflowing in bowls like Halloween treats, starred at this “Welcome Mom” gathering. Warm Naan frosted with Goat Cheese and Jammit Jam Cherry Clove Cabernet Jam, Dried Apricots and Almonds, and Garbanzo Beans roasted with Rosemary and minced Garlic kicked off the party. Then, mouthwatering grilled Scampi basted with Bronco Bob’s seductively smokey Roasted Mango Chipotle Sauce, Zucchini, and Sweet Potato wedges followed. (N.B. Both Jam and Sauce labels presented helpful menu suggestions by course.) Bubbly LaMarca Prosecco was the perfect pairing throughout the soirée. Fresh Raspberries and Chocolates à la Mode – including Blue Planet Super Food Squares developed by a doctor at the world-famous Cleveland Clinic – and Elaine’s Toffee Company scrumptious Milk-Chocolate covered Butter Crunch brought even more love to our hearts on this joyous occasion!

 

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Almost Nothing Matches, And We’re So Thankful!

November 27th, 2016

thanksgiving16Different plates, different napkins, a 25th birthday on the 24th; some with soul mates, appetizers16some soul searching – ChezHelvetica’s Thanksgiving was a joyous gathering of family (three generations!) and old and new friends. Caraccioli Brut Cuvée and Rosé, Spinach and Artichoke Dips, Crudités nested in Romaine and Baked Brie with Lemon Pita Chips started the sunset celebration followed by fragrant, heartwarming Acorn Squash Soup served in their shells. Delicious Whole Foods Diestel Turkey, brined in Butter and Herbs (roasted in my convection oven according to Purcell-Murray’s instructions) took its rightful place center stage. Savory “Simple is Best” Dressingacornsquashsoup16 (made with Ciabatta, Cornbread, fresh Sage, Rosemary and Thyme) and mouthwatering Mashed and Sweet Potatoes, Green Beans and two different kinds of luscious Cranberry Sauces accompanied our bird. Nacina Reisling and The Seven Deadly Zins Zinfandel kept the conversation flowing between the Nasty Women and Men around the table all night. And then, the incredible homemade pies – Key Lime Pie, Pumpkin Pie and a Chocolate Pecan Pie made by the Birthday Girl herself. Thankful, Grateful, Stuffed!

 

turkey16       centerpiece16       pies16

 

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Hunter’s Moon and Gatherers México

October 19th, 2016

mexicantable“¡Bienvenidos Familia!” Glistening raindrops and autumn moonlight illuminated ChezHelvetica’s Mexican-inspired feast, opening with Anthony Bourdain’s heartwarming recipe for Button Mushroom Soup fragrant with the aroma of Sherry. The centerpiece Mexican Chopped Salad with smokey Toasted Cumin Vinaigrette overflowed with Red andmexchsal Yellow Tomatoes, Green Apple, Purple Tortilla Chips, White Corn, Pepitas (Pumpkin Seeds) and Avocado, on a bed of Romaine Lettuce and Arugula. (Recently, I learned you can regrow Romaine by placing the root in water – now miracles on the windowsill.) Quesadillas made with Organic Whole Wheat Tortillas, filled with Cheddar Cheese, and Tudal Winery‘s Chardonnay delivered even more comfort to our meal. Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie FroYo was the perfect sweet conclusion to our family gathering!

 

romaineregrowth    tudalwine   peruvanlillies

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When Winter Is Summer

August 18th, 2016

Spanish TortillaThe duplicity of the season for ChezHelvetica inspires dishes made with relative ease and some warmth, a nod to lazier days and the ever-present chilling fog. Crunchy Celery and Chickpea Salad and creamy Corn Chowder (both recipes from The New York Times) fulfilled these needs. With fresh produce from the VA Farmers’ Market and Trader Joe’s, jewel-like Yellow and White Corn Kernels, Red Pearl Tomatoes, Green Celery and Italian Parsley decorated the kitchen like confetti. Yukon Gold Potatoes and Green Onions sautéed in Extra Virgin Olive Oil, combined with Organic Eggs, created a delicious, sizzling Spanish Tortilla. Then, Marqués de Cáceres, a velvety smooth Rosé from Spain’s famed Rioja region, delivered that extra excitement! 

 

Corn chowder   ChickpeaCelerySalad

 

 

 

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Nice. And Not Nice.

July 18th, 2016

Bastille16TortelliniChezHelvetica’s vision for a heartwarming celebratory Bastille Day dinner turned somber with the day’s heartbreaking news in Nice, France. Consider this post a condolence card to all those grieving. Still, we had to move forward. Hummus Heaven provided comfort with their Kale and Almond Hummus served with Organic Celery Hearts and Carrots, as did Chicken Soup made with Rotisserie Chicken, Onion, Garlic and Parsley. Bastille16CruditeGiovanni Rana‘s Cheese “Delicato” Tortellini delivered more contentment, topped with a homemade Cherry Tomato Sauce. Florin Gardens’ Blackberry necklace a lá Mode concluded the evening with wishes of Peace for this world.

Bastille16Soup     Bastille16Table     Bastille16Dessert

 

 

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The Influence of Brexit

July 1st, 2016

LittleGemSaladNo, no, no –  not on financial investments – on dinner! ChezHelvetica’s search for “Little Gems with Nectarine Salad” landed smack in Britain with this recipe from Philadelphia.Co.U.K. Exiting from the prescribed ingredients, grilled wild-caught Copper River Salmon Fillet replaced Chicken and Thai Heritage Seafood Sauce supplanted traditional Chili Sauce. The addition of freshly chopped Italian Parsley and Lemon Juice to the Cream Cheese dressing deviated further from the stated union. NaanTory Farms Nectarines and beautiful Little Gems (a sweet cousin to Romaine Lettuce) from the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, spiced with aromatic Coriander, elevated the dish to a new plateau. Sukkis Naan, served warm in a new terra-cotta stone bread basket, accompanied the delicious sweet and savory salad. Ben & Jerry, also known for profound political statements, provided the happy ending to our meal with luscious Cherry Garcia FroYo. Therefore, Our Vote: Remain!

FroYo

 

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