Inscribed & Inspired

October 1st, 2021

Enthralled by stories of Sephardic Jeweled Rice from Syria and Lebanon and Russian Apple Cake (first prepared to honor the wife of Tsar Alexander I), ChezHelvetica traveled the virtual globe for unparalleled sweetness and fragrance for the High Holidays. These days of introspection cascaded into Harvest Moonlight and the Equinox, with glorious Fall bounty and colors now embracing us. Apples and Honey with Challah always open Rosh Hashanah with wishes for a sweet New Year. On this occasion, the Apples were from the Rheingold Garden in Tam Valley, used also for the Apple Cake. The House of Bagels served as my house of worship, on Rosh Hashanah for the Round Challah and then a second time on Yom Kippur for Lox and Bagels. Standing in line for half an hour on the Day of Atonement seemed like the perfect place to be, surrounded by some wearing yarmulkes clipped to their hair. Homemade Chicken Soup and Sweet Pickles with Onions accompanied the intoxicating Jeweled Rice – spiced with Paprika, Tumeric, Cumin and Lemon Zest and studded with dried Apricots, Figs, Cherries and Pistachios. Pomegranate seeds crowned the delicious dish. A wonderful Apricot and Raspberry Macaroon Tart delivered the inscription for another year in the Book of Life!



Saturday Night Live @ Lands End

August 4th, 2021

Comedy and Variety enlivened ChezHelvetica this Saturday Night! Visiting Cugino Primo (First Cousin) brought laughs to the table with great stories from San Luis Obispo and Ohio to Puglia, Italy. “Fish and Chips” with giant Zucchini from a friend’s Tam Valley garden seemed the perfect meal for this occasion. The New All-Purpose Vinaigrette, deliciously spiced with Shallot, Dijon Mustard, Agave and seasonings dressed Cod Fillets from Andronico’s and the Tam Valley Zucchini. The dishes then roasted above Yukon Gold Potatoes from the VA Farmers Market, filling the kitchen with tantalizing aromas. Savory Stone Wall Kitchen Truffle Aioli on the Potatoes made them even more mouth-watering. Reed’s Ginger Beer and Armida Zinfandel from Dry Creek Valley in Sonoma paired wonderfully with our food. The final credits go to Häagen-Dazs and Ben & Jerry’s for their carousel of Caramel, Chocolate Fudge Brownie, Vanilla and Cherry Garcia Ice Creams and Frozen Yogurt. Entertainment at its best – SNL+

Leftovers with Jasmine Rice!


Bouquets to Art and Farfalle

June 16th, 2021

ChezHelvetica celebrated a triptych of special occasions in a re-opening world! Bouquets to Art at the deYoung Museum, Pride Month, and a Milestone Anniversary commemorated by anything Ruby and Nasturtiums. Fortunately, Nasturtiums flourish in my back garden and Ruby candles at Safeway. With the table set in a rainbow of colors, Bowtie Pasta in Spicy Asparagus Cream (a great recipe from CUESA) starred as the evening’s masterwork, accompanied by Boudin’s wonderful Sourdough Baguette and Kalamata Olives. Aidell’s Italian Style Sausage and lots of freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese added savory sensations to the meal. A gift from the pre-opening of Bouquets to Art, Sosie Wine (a blend of white wines in the Bordeaux style) paired beautifully with the dinner. Another gift, See’s Candies in a floral tin, sweetened the soirée – one delicious piece after another. Love IS Love and Making Magic IS Still Magical!



The Four (Hundred?) Questions

March 30th, 2021

Liberation from slavery, the “passing over” of the forces of destruction, the exodus of forty days and nights. ChezHelvetica commemorated these events from the 13th century BCE with a Passover Seder honoring this historic occasion, as well as its parallels to life now. The Four Questions usually asked at this ceremony have compounded, with questions about virtually everything going on in today’s world. The meal served and heirloom table settings also honored ancient traditions and cultures while adding fresh touches. First served: Delicious homemade Wise Sons Chicken Soup and Matzo Balls and Apple-Walnut Charoset with Matzot. Next course – a Kuku Sabaszi or Baked Persian Omelet filled with a spectacular burst of fresh herbs and spices, accompanied by dollops of Greek Yogurt and a Mediterranean Olive medley. Our main course showcased succulent Rotisserie Chicken with roasted Honey Gold Potatoes and Brussels Sprouts. After this rich feast, the simple dessert consisted of Strawberries dipped into Sour Cream and Brown Sugar. Dayenu? Enough? Not yet! The next day, which was the first day of Passover, we enjoyed more of the Persian Omelet. On the second day, Matzah BreiMay all our Questions be answered, may Everyone be Healthy and Free!




March 19th, 2021

Shape things the way you want! While these words of wisdom apply to life in general, ChezHelvetica applies this concept to culinary creations. Fortunately, a co-chef with experience in Kodiak Cake design cooks up the best shape for any occasion. Valentine’s Day showcased beautiful heart shapes fringed with Navel Oranges, Raspberries and Organic Blueberries, then doused with sweet Maple Syrup. More recently, round cakes framed Medina Farms Strawberries and Blueberries, laced with home-made Lemon Curd. Thanks to dear friend Susan who gifted me with Meyer Lemons from her garden and Ina Garten/Food Network for the great recipe, the rich sweet/tart curd dressed our pancakes with enough left over to share with neighbors. My Aunt and Mother surrounded these tables virtually through their beautiful crystal gifts!


A Beacon of Light!

December 12th, 2020

Never before has The Festival of Lights seemed more important or necessary. ChezHelvetica celebrated Chanukah amidst some of the worst crises of health and democracy in our history with humor and a tight grip on the beauty and tradition of this holiday. Note the Toilet Paper Menorah, a nod to Covid, towering over a childhood brass menorah holding the first night’s candle. Lox from The House of Bagels and Chives topped crispy Latkes, an excellent recipe found on the CUESA website from Evan Bloom. Delicious Applesauce made with a Cinnamon Stick, Meyer Lemon and Gala Apples, and luscious Sour Cream accompanied the savory Latkes. With thoughts of the Maccabees and their victory over oppression and a Signature Reserve Russian River Chardonnay, happiness embraced our dinner. Jewish Stars decorated the table – on a candle from dear neighbors, a blue and white ceramic box from sister Abby and a delicious blue and white frosted cookie. This Butter Cookie from the HOB Bakery and Loacker Hazelnut Quadratini bestowed the concluding sweetness on our celebration. As we commemorate the rededication (of the second temple in Jerusalem in 164 BCE) and miracle of the oil that lasted eight days, may miracles abound for us all! A shot in the arm?!



Breaking The Fast, Slowly

September 29th, 2020

Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, set with the sun and promising seal for a good New Year. After remembering our lost loved ones and pondering what more could be done to improve ourselves and help others, it was now time to break the day’s fast. At ChezHelvetica, this meant Mezze, small dishes of Middle Eastern heritage to share. Our feast started with Fuji Apple slices and the sweetest Honey from Tierra Del Cielo Bee Farm in Santa Margarita (gift from sister Abby), then progressed to savory Zucchini/Brussel Sprout Fritters spiced with Mint, Basil, Garlic and Lemon Zest, served with Galbani Ricotta Cheese. My dear friend Joan provided a platter of wonderful La Mediterannee bites (Dolmas, Spinach and Chicken Filos) with Hummus, Aubergine Dip, Pita Bread and Challah (made by daughter Arielle) and Balsamic Beets Salad with Medjool Dates and Walnuts. Our cups runneth over with Frei Brothers Zinfandel from Dry Creek Valley (stains removed from the white linens with some salt and Wine Away). This special night ended with a delicious Apple Tart (home made by the Shabbos Goy) à la mode. Let all our futures be special, filled with hope!



Legacy & Spirit: 5781 & RBG

September 21st, 2020

Rosh Hashanah at ChezHelvetica braided the New Year, culinary renewals and the heart-breaking loss of Ruth Bader Ginsberg. Jewish tradition calls one who dies at this auspicious time a tzadik, or righteous person. RBG’s tireless fight for the rights of all people will forever imprint our history. Hopefully, Ruth also would have delighted in the “Exciting Noodle Kugel” from The New York Times, a savory, rich Kugel using Pappardelle Egg Noodles, Sour Cream, Cottage and Parmesan Cheeses plus some secret ingredients. “Perfect Pan-Seared Chicken Breasts” and Zucchini roasted with Olive Oil, Lemon Juice and fresh Thyme from the ChezHelvetica garden completed the main course. OZY Old Vine Zinfandel from Lodi added a blessed touch. Fuji Apple slices with Honey started this evening’s special meal and then came full circle with a dessert of Apple Pie (made by the Shabbos Goy), topped with Häagen-Dazs Vanilla Bean Ice Cream. The second night featured beautiful linens from Israel (gift from sister Abby) and a Caprese Salad of Heirloom Tomato, baked Cod, strips of the Kugel and Basil Chiffonade atop Organic Spinach and Kalamata Olives. Let RBG’s resilience, optimism and pursuit of justice inspire and motivate us all!



An Unprecedented Fourth

July 6th, 2020

Red, white and blue or rainbow colors, black and sparkles? With mixed emotions at this troubling time in our history, ChezHelvetica presented the most uplifting table possible with William Tabar‘s Exotic Sand Sculpture shimmering when rotated, Sunshine Kesey‘s colorful art glass and gold foil (from a Philanthropy By Design event) along with beautiful Hydrangeas. A day for grilling – Cheese Burgers (made with ground sirloin from Antonelli’s and Primo Taglio Cheddar), Onions and Mushrooms on OroWheat Buns, and Sweet Corn. Thank you to Rachel Ray for the simple instruction to brush the cobs with oil and season with salt. A tangy Marinated Vegetable Salad with fresh Cauliflower, Broccoli, Carrots (from the VA Farmers Market), Zucchini and Grape Tomatoes (from Safeway) added the confetti touch. Gnarly Head Old Vine Zin from Lodi brought happiness to the occasion. Finally, a nod to the flag with mini-cupcakes surrounded by Ben & Jerry’s Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream. Inalienable rights and good health to all!






From Virtual to Actual. Passover 5780

April 12th, 2020

The Question Now: Why is this seder different from all other seders? In this surreal time, commemorating our ancestors release from bondage has been supplanted by family and friends ordered to stay in place – in self-isolation. ChezHelvetica honored both by first conversing with nuclear relatives and old friends virtually, then launching into a very authentic, traditional dinner atop beautiful new white, blue and silver Lamé linen placemats from Jerusalem (gifts from sister Abby).
Charoset with Apples, Dates, and Walnuts (plus Gnarly Head Old Vine Zin) with a touch of Horseradish on Yehuda Matzos started our meal, followed by bowls of steaming home-made Matzo Ball Soup. Delicious Roasted Chicken infused with Lemons, Tangerines and Saffron echoed the exotic tastes of Persia, Potato Kugel and amazing Roasted Artichokes filled with fresh Oregano, Thyme and Garlic sent us on a global journey from biblical times to the present. Coconut Macaroons dipped in Chocolate concluded our heartfelt dinner.

Next year In Person with All of our Loved Ones!