According to legend, Rosh Hashanah is the birthday of the universe ~ the day of Adam and Eve’s creation. Its actual translation is Head of the Year. At ChezHelvetica, this High Holy Day celebration was more “Hole-y” since Covid infected our friend Joan who then could not join us.
Persevering, our dinner started with the sweet tradition of Apples and Honey followed by Matzo Ball Soup. Our main course featured Everything Bagel Roasted Salmon, Green Beans and a simply delicious Basically Noodle Kugel. Brushing Honey and Dijon Mustard on the Salmon adds sweet and tangy flavors, while Everything Bagel Seasoning adds extra crunch and spice. Notes of Vanilla and Cinnamon heighten the luscious mixture of Sour Cream and Cottage Cheese, swirling the buttered Egg Noodles of the Kugel.
The incredible wine pairing was a 1996 JordanWinery Cabernet Sauvignon, a gift from our neighbor.
As we finished the wonderful home made Blackberry Pie in a beautiful whole wheat crust (using berries picked from a friend’s garden), optimism for a Happy and Healthy New Year encircled us. May there beRenewal for All!!!
P.S. Wearing masks, we brought this dinner to Joan’s house the next day where she gave us the best Challah from Noe Valley Bakery.
Tilting toward the sun, ChezHelvetica celebrated the Summer Solstice with Scandinavian-inspired revelry and best possible friends – the Cava4 (as #5 was in Scotland)! Our tea party started with Crab Toast, a luxurious combination of French Baguette toast slathered with brown butter mayonnaise and sweet Dungeness Crab. Sparkling Breathless Blanc de Noirs paired perfectly with this course.Glazed Fresh Orange Scones with hints of Vanilla and Cardamom, doused with luscious Lemon Curd, and Pineapple cubes followed.
A traditional symbol in European celebrations are flower crowns so we played musical chairs, moving to the other end of the table with our overflowing blossoms and greens to create our crowns. Sweet Lemon Iced Tea energized this very focused multi-step creation.
The sweet send-off were Strawberry Tartlets. Ground Almonds, Walnuts and Pecans cradled a Strawberry, Lemon Verbena and Honey filling (topped with rich Whipped Cream) for a distinctive new taste. SUMMER HAPPINESS!!!
ChezHelvetica celebrated Easter (on the fourth day of Passover) with a trinity of family and multi-nationality of dishes. A Zaalook Salad from La Maison Arabe in Marrakech, Morocco (with Eggplant, Tomato, Paprika and Cumin) rested on Arugula and Spinach, framed by Deviled Eggs. (NB: The boiled egg’s origin can be seen in recipes as far back as ancient Rome.) Also of Italian inspiration, Lemon Asparagus Risotto and Garlic-Lemon Scallops. The delicious Arborio Rice Risotto was flavored with Garlic, White Wine, Lemon Zest/ Juice, and Parmesan Reggiano Cheese in a five-step preparation, handled by the very talented Sous Chef. The Chef’s attention next focused on Sea Scallops sautéed in Butter and Garlic, then drenched in a Lemon-Butter sauce which accompanied the Risotto. Tangy Reed’s Ginger Beer, whose Ginger is sourced from the Peruvian Amazon, paired perfectly with this course. Finally to America for a Hot Fudge Sundae made with Häagan-Dazs Ice Cream, Berries from Medina Farms at the VA Farmers Market and Smuckers decadent Hot Fudge. We have Risen and hope You did as well!
As math aficionados ponder the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter or Pi (3.14…), ChezHelvetica chose to concentrate on a fabulous new Pie to devour on 3/14. The winning stroke, a Walnut Pie Crust. Thanks to Winters Fruit Tree at the VA Farmers Market and their wonderful produce (surviving floods), Walnuts toasted then combined with Butter and a bit of Sugar to form a crust pressed into the pie plate. After a quick bake, the crust was filled with Asparagus, Eggs, Half&Half, Seasonings, Cheddar and Mozzarella Cheeses to make a Quiche. A salad of Spinach/Spring Greens, Olives and Celery with a Balsamic Vinegar, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Agave and Garlic dressing brought it all to life! Gratitude to British mathematician William Jones for devising the mathematics behind the Pi symbol π and to all the Farmers whose hard work bring us the ingredients for our Pies. Happy Spring Everyone!
Christmas on the last night of Chanukah ~ Behold Chrismukkah! At ChezHelvetica the eighth candle glowed as a tiny beacon of peace and happiness, surrounded by symbols of both Chanukah and Christmas. Delicious Lox, Artichoke Hearts and Olives framed Latkes. Luscious Applesauce and Sour Cream accompanied. A Jelly Donut for dessert sweetened our celebration! Happy 2023!
Rosh Hashanah, the New Year! ChezHelvetica celebrated 5783 (commemorating the creation of the world) with traditions symbolic to this occasion and new recipe adventures. For a sweet new year we first dipped Fuji Apple slices into luscious Honey from the Bay Area Bee Co., sweetening further with large “fancy” Medjool Dates and wonderful Poppy Seed Challah from the Noe Valley Bakery. Our main course featured Chicken Matzo Ball Stew (thanks to inspiration from The New York Times) and Roasted Broccoli & Hummus. The outstanding stew took three step-by-step days to create with my talented Sous Chef — cutting Onion, Celery, Turnip, simmering Rosie Organic Chicken and making matzo balls. Streit’s Matzo Meal combined with Eggs, Ginger (freshly harvested from our garden), Nutmeg, Parsley and Schmaltz skimmed from the Chicken soup. Carrots and Peas then brightened the stew, with fresh Dill and Parsley adding the final aromatic touches. Charred Broccoli florets drizzled with Olive Oil, Lemon Juice, Paprika and a mix of spices (to replicate Za’atar seasoning) crowned Sabra Hummus delivering simply sensational taste. Willamette Valley Argyle Pinot Noir and Reed’s Ginger Beer paired well with this holiday meal. And what a delight to be surrounded by Wedgwood “Patrician” China from my Grandmother, Georg Jensen “Cactus” Sterling Silver flatware, and tassel placemats from my Mother, and beautiful Israeli linen napkins from my Sister Abby. Besides the Challah, my dear friend Joan also brought delicious Honey Cake, Rugelach, and Macaroons with Straus Organic Vanilla Bean Ice Cream for the crescendo of our heart-touching gathering. A Happy, Healthy, Sweet New Year to All!
Like beautiful new blooms on a Rose bush, ChezHelvetica welcomed the daughter and three grandchildren of a dear friend (now smiling down from heaven). After researching kid-friendly dishes, a Frittata seemed like a good choice for our meal, made even more fun by using a paella pan in the preparation. With Shallot, Garlic, Cremini Mushrooms, Mozzarella, Ricotta, Eggs, Half & Half and Baby Spring Mix Lettuce (instead of Spinach), it indeed starred as a savory sensation! Sweet Potato Fries (roasted in Sesame Oil, Smoked Paprika and Garlic) created a wonderful side dish, especially accompanied by Stonewall Kitchen‘s Lemon Herb Aioli and Sir Kensington’s Classic Ketchup. Homemade Lemonade was the perfect summer beverage to serve at the gathering. Our sweet finish: Mixed Berry Crumble Bars (using Strawberries, Raspberries and Blueberries from Medina Berry Farms at the VA Farmer’s Market and juicy Blackberries from Tony’s farm). A choice of Ben & Jerry’s Vanilla Caramel Fudge and (non-diary) Phish Food Ice Cream toppings brought smiles all around! Meet Nissa Schumacher’s children: Will, Drew (twins) and sister Laney!!!
Greek inspiration|Israeli ingenuity|Italian saporoso ChezHelvetica delighted this weekend in serving Baked Feta With Tomatoes and Roasted Asparagus. The Israeli Feta in brine (discovered at Trader Joe‘s) is an outstanding, luxuriant rendition of sheep’s milk cheese. Freshly cut Oregano from the garden and rich Olive Oil doused the Feta, Cherry Tomatoes and Kalamata Olives. Safeway‘s Multigrain Harvest Bread soaked up the delicious flavors. Asparagus from the VA Farmers’ Market, tossed with Olive Oil, Salt, Pepper, Parmesan Reggiano Cheese and Lemon Juice accompanied, along with vibrant Edna Valley Chardonnay. Then the next day O Organics Whole Wheat Spaghetti and Snow Peas from the VA Farmer’s Market bathed in roasted Shallots, Tomatoes and Tarragon, finished with Basil Chiffonade and Parmesan Cheese. Our Dolce ending ~ Really?Good homemade Mixed Berry Pie á la Mode!
OSUs Scarlet & Gray, emblazoned with an “O Stealie”, brought magical vibes to the celebration at ChezHelvetica – from Grateful Dead to Grateful Alive. A luscious Ina GartenRoasted Vegetable Lasagna layered with roasted Eggplant, Zucchini, four different Cheeses, Rao’s Marinara Sauce, O Organics Lasagna Noodles, Garlic, fresh Oregano and Basil absolutely delighted the party. A Spinach and Arugula Salad with Avocado, Red Onion, Walnuts and wonderful Poppyseed Dressing accompanied. Italbrand Parmigiano Reggiano (Thin Torinesi Grissini) Breadsticks from Andronico’s and Trader Joe’s Organic Olives completed this star set. For the finale – sister Barbara brought a wonderfully rich Chocolate Mousse Torte from renowned Schubert’s Bakery. A leftover Chanukah candle ignited, granting heartfelt wishes to the birthday honoree. Happiest of Birthdays Freddy! Really?!
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!