Bouquets to Art and Farfalle

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!


A Family Tapestry

ChezHelvetica wove interlacing culinary patterns into a warm hug for visiting family. Grilled White Peaches from the VA Farmers Market with choice of (Brown Sugar & Cinnamon, Maple Syrup or Haagen Dazs Carmel Cone Ice Cream) toppings was Friday night’s arrival dessert. Saturday’s dinner Soiree’ delighted guests as fresh Pine Nut Pesto doused frilly ‘Gigli’ Pasta, accompanied by grilled Zucchini and Aidell’s Italian Style Chicken Sausage, warm Baguette and Greek Olive Medley. La Crema Chardonnay from Sonoma’s North Coast added bright Citrus, Apricot and Honeydew scents. Finally, Trader Joe’s Crispy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies completed the heartwarming meal. A classic Sunday Brunch featuring Lox and ‘Everything’ Bagels from the House of Bagels, Deviled Eggs, Early Girl Tomatoes and Red Onion ended this reunion with Big Dreams for the next!





Head Trip

CauliGratOne definition of a head trip is an experience in which one’s intellect or imagination seems to expand. ChezHelvetica’s trip focused on two heads, one Cauliflower and the other Toasted. A New York Times recipe for savory Cauliflower Gratin expanded this chef’s imagination in transforming Toasted HeadCauliflower with the fragrances of Cinnamon, Coriander, Garlic and freshly-cut Thyme. Mozzarella and Cheddar replaced the Goat Cheese, creating a perfect complement to grilled Aidell’s Italian Sausage. Every sip of luscious Toasted Head Chardonnay fired up the evening.  Delicious Snickerdoodle Cookies, a surprise early birthday gift sent from my niece Rachel (whose intellect is currently expanding in a doctoral program at Purdue), topped off this very special Head Trip!

Peruvian lillies

Comfort Food+Comfort Company

MacCheese“Healthful, but just-as-divine” piqued the interest of ChezHelvetica with Real Simple‘s Comfort-Food Makeover featuring Roasted Broccoli and Tomato Mac-and-Cheese. This creamy KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) recipe turned into a French kiss with the addition of Muscat de Provence, a rare sweet squash from the south of France. MacFlowersRoasted organic Broccoli, Cauliflower and Cherry Tomatoes – plus the Squash and some Red Onion – joined Barilla Pasta Shells in a rich Cheddar Cheese bath. Topped with Pepper Jack Cheese, the sparks really flew! Aidell’s Chicken-Apple Sausage and Saveur‘s Celery Salad (with additional Baby Spinach) accompanied the featured dish with savory and fresh accents. Easing us into further comfort: Brazin’s velvety Dry Creek Valley Old Vine Zinfandel. The final hug – Food & Wine’Blackberry and Apple Crisp with Nut Topping à la mode. AppleBlackberryCrispThe right food with the right person – indeed, the definition of Heartwarming!MacTableAfter



Edible Art and The Asparagus

Since 3000 B.C. and its appearance on an Egyptian frieze, Asparagus has been prized by civilizations around the world for its delicate flavor and visual beauty. The ChezHelvetica gallery continues the exhibition with two recent dishes featuring this cherished spring vegetable. The first, a Lemony Pepper Browned Butter Vinaigrette Pasta with Asparagus and Mushrooms and the second, Asparagus, Fingerling Potato, Goat Cheese Pizza. From palette to palate, a mixed media of colors and textures greets the eye as the panoply of tastes excites the taste buds. Using creative license, both dishes deviated from the prescribed recipes using ingredients on hand, like Arugula instead of Spinach plus Aidell’s Sausage with the Pasta, and delicious Las Fortunitas Tortillas instead of dough for the Pizza. After paint brushing the tortilla canvases with Garlic Oil, Green Onions and White and Purple Fingerling Potatoes became the beautiful base, with Asparagus applied as crown – all lusciously highlighted with three different soft yellow Cheeses. A celebration of the visual and edible arts!









The ‘Shrooms at Chez

Mushroom foraging for ChezHelvetica commenced at the foot of Mt. Hamilton last year and migrated to SOMA this year. Treasure was found at Trader Joe’s in large, meaty Cremini Mushrooms, the perfect ingredient for Leek, Mushroom and Lemon Risotto or for a rustic Mushroom Tart – two Saturday night dinners. For the Risotto, Leeks from the VAMC Farmers Market and the Mushrooms were sauteed in Truffle Oil (my addition) and added to Arborio Rice along with Lemon Juice and Zest, Herbs, Butter and Parmesan Cheese for a symphony of flavors. An Asparagus and Arugula salad completed the meal, with Unruly Red Zinfandel in the role of conductor. Layering the phyllo crust for the Tart was a new adventure, oiling and sprinkling bread crumbs on each of the ten delicate layers. Ricotta, Goat Cheese and Thyme from our garden filled the crust, with Mushrooms and Chicken-Apple Aidell’s Sausage crowning the rich, flaky Tart. An Artichoke Heart and Arugula salad joined the stage with a Bogle Zinfandel in the commanding role. Encore, Encore!

Independence Day!*!*!

Celebrating freedom this Fourth of July with the incredible bounty of our country! With a nod to the diversity of this nation, flavors were All-American, Mexican and Italian. The American component was a Lemony Potato Salad, a recipe from Epicurious, offering the zing of Meyer Lemon juice and zest, crunchy celery and buttery Yukon Gold Potatoes. Luscious creme fraiche enriched the dressing. Guacamole and chips, a natural segue from the U.S. to Mexico, took a twist with the use of cumin along with sweet red onion to flavor the organic avocado. Primavera Butternut Squash Tamales, filled with corn and Jack Cheese, paired with a new partner –Dave’s Gourmet Roasted Red Pepper Chipolte Hot Sauce. This delicious sauce delivered smoky soft fireworks! Savory Aidell’s Italian Sausages completed our entree and sweet ripe strawberries completed our holiday meal. With a salute to the Armed Forces and my Father, the folded flag was used to adorn the table.

Sugar Snap Peas

I don’t really like peas. Yet the overflowing table of sugar snap peas at the Ferry Plaza Farmers’ Market, and my husband’s urging, prompted me to buy these “pod fruits”. A great Epicurious recipe combining the sweet peas with a pungent garlic paste and parmesan cheese yielded an explosion of juxtaposing flavors. The luscious sauce drenched delicate garlic and parsley fettuccine.  As an embellishment, I added sauteed baby shiitake mushrooms and Aidell’s Chicken and Apple sausage. As oft stated, “give peas a chance” now made imminent sense!

Sweet Beauregard Soup

With the New Orleans Saints and Mardi Gras still on my brain and rain on my head, a southern inspired menu featuring soup seemed like the perfect way to go. A huge Beauregard Yam was transformed using a Food Network recipe for sweet potato soup. Deliciously spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg and freshly grated ginger from our garden, the soup is delightfully sweet from slow roasting the yam and adding just a bit of golden grown sugar. My favorite “Polenta” cookbook from Chronicle Books provided the inspiration for the herbed polenta muffins that accompanied the soup. For an easy green side, I relied on a favorite celery salad recipe from Saveur Magazine. Always in the freezer, Aidell’s Chicken and Apple sausages (purchased at Costco) completed our casual dinner. Oh yes, the new Reese’s Peanut Butter cups with Dark Chocolate now seemed like an almost healthy dessert to conclude our meal!

Birthday Celebrations

On my birthday, November 5, the San Francisco Chronicle had a full page photo of our new President with the headline: “OBAMA, Change Has Come to America”. I could not have received a happier birthday present than this! My lucky day continued as my BFF Joan took me to Cavallo Point for lunch where we enjoyed a decadent tasting menu with a bottle of Rose’ from a Napa Valley vintner.  Dinner, artistically prepared by my husband Freddy, was the grand finale of the day. Food Network star Giada de Laurentiis provided the inspiration for my birthday gift, her new cookbook “Everyday Italian”, and our menu. I was sous chef and table setter as Freddy prepared a delicious grilled eggplant salad with pine nuts and goat cheese and sweet potato fries with basil salt and a garlic mayonnaise dip. This was served with with chicken-apple Aidell’s sausage. Our accompanying wine was a Pinot Grigio from Italy, a delightful surprise. Creamy vanilla gelato, topped with chocolate chips and hazelnuts, was the crowning dessert – birthday candle and all! Wishes of hope for everyone!!!