FULL!

November 28th, 2021

Thankful, Grateful, Artful, Graceful and FULL! Those heartfelt words depict the feelings at ChezHelvetica this Thanksgiving in reconnecting with family, setting the table with treasured heirlooms and preparing traditional dishes with new twists. Our feast began with a small salad of Spinach, Arugula and pureed Pumpkin with a dollop of Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing and Martinelli’s Sparkling Cider. Mary’s Free Range Organic Turkey Breast dry brined in Kosher Salt, Sugar, Dried Thyme, Garlic Powder and coarse-ground Black Pepper for 28 hours. The mouthwatering Turkey and Bon Appetit‘s Simple is Best Dressing (prepared with Ciabatta, Onion, Celery, Chicken Broth and Herbs) starred, drenched with Andronico’s savory Turkey Gravy. French’s Onion Rings recipe for Green Bean Casserole was transformed with the addition of Sautéed Mushrooms and Garlic. Another metamorphosis – baked Sweet Potatoes split in half and finished under the broiler with Honey, Cinnamon and Nutmeg. An amazing Cranberry Sauce with Dried Cherries and Cloves will forever change using just plain cranberry sauce. And then, a delicious Chocolate Pecan Pie in a homemade Butter and Sour Cream crust. Such Happiness on Thanksgiving! FULFILLMENT!

  

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CAVA 5 ((Coven))

November 4th, 2021

 

 

A Coven of very special Cava 5 friends (best described on this occasion as WitchCrafty, Spellbinding, Spooktacular & Ghostly) encircled ChezHelvetica’s Halloween lunch Crucible Hell-Vetica. To start, a gripping Cauldron Dip of Edamame, Ricotta, Pesto and spices in an Acorn Squash, served with Crudité and Signature Parmesan Grissini Breadsticks. Sparkling Canals & Nubiolo Brut Cava (our signature drink) accompanied the dip and delectable Pumpkin Deviled Eggs. Now moving closer to the flames, Sugar Pumpkin Soup filled the witches with savory tastes of Shallots and Garlic, and sweet flavors of Coconut Milk and Maple Syrup spiced with fragrant Cinnamon and Nutmeg. On to the delicious main course – Puff Pastry Rotisserie Chicken and Sweet Potato Pie and a Green Salad, paired with the flavors of Plums and Blackberries in Ghost Pines Cabernet. The haunting finish – No Trick All Treat – Halloween Chocolate Chip Cookies!

Thanks to each wonderful Cava 5 friend for your artistic, creative or mouth-watering contribution!!!

 

          

 

 

 

 

 

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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!

              

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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!

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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!

      

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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!

 

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Shapes

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!

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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?!

 

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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!

 

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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!

      

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