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!

Turkey Pot π

ChezHelvetica celebrated Pi Day on 3/14 (the first significant numbers of the mathematical constant π) along with others around the world. Some aficionados count digits while some eat Pie to celebrate the occasion. With infinite choices and recently made Lemon-Garlic Turkey this evening’s selection was a Food Network recipe for Turkey Pot Pie.

Executive and Sous Chefs chopped, sautéd, stirred, crowned with pie crust and baked. Voila’ – a delicious dinner took centerstage on this special day!



Chopping onion, celery, snow peas, parsley
Sautéing all ingredients in butter
Adding chicken stock, flour and wine
Cover with pie crust brushed with egg and bake










My World Cup Runneth Over

SunflowersThe ChezHelvetica World Cup proffers a new meaning to the storied tournament. Here, it is an international collaboration – a pairing of the best in food, wine and, for this Summer Celebration, Cheese and Chocolate. First up – Spain. Mont Summer tableMarcal Brut Cava Reserva from Catalunya delighted guests upon arrival, as did the sunshine and brilliant blue skies. Then the first course – sweet, refreshing Watermelon draped with savory Proscuitto. An intoxicating Chilled Spanish-Style Tomato Soup, accompanied by Marcona Almonds, Olives and a lovely Lioco Rosé from Mendocino County followed. (A note here, Watermelon+instead of using the called for Sherry Vinegar in the soup, ChezHelvetica substituted Balsamic Vinegar and Sherry). Next served, a Chicken Waldorf Salad bursting with Walnuts, Apples, Grapes, Raisins, Celery and Grilled Summer BuffetChicken on a bed of Organic Arugula – all drenched in a luscious Greek Yogurt and Mayonnaise Dressing. Now for the Cheese and Chocolate pairing! Inspired by an event at The Cheese School of San Francisco, four Cheeses (from the U.S., France, Germany and Italy) matched with four complementary Chocolates (from the U.S., France, Philippines and Vanuatu), as we happily quaffed Sphere Zinfandel from Lodi. Chicken WaldorfFinally, The Trophy: A Chiriboga Blue Cheesecake (made with Blue and Cream Cheeses, Orange and Lemon Zests, Vanilla, Sugar and Eggs in a Chocolate Wafer crust). The winning team? Five incredibly intelligent, creative women – now known as the Cava V!

Chiriboga cheesecake

The Astounding Apricot

Romantic legends of the Apricot’s journey to the orchards of California fascinate – be it a northern route from China to the Balkans or a a southern route from Armenia through Syria, Arabia, Greece, Italy, North Africa and later Russia, or a middle route from the Danube Valley to Germany with Roman soldiers playing a major role in the distribution of seeds. This illumination was delivered to ChezHelvetica via the SF Professional Food Society and our book club selection: California Apricots – The Lost Orchards of Silicon Valley by Robin Chapman. Wonderful stories of the Spaniards from the eighteenth century who first planted Apricots in the Mission Santa Clara gardens to the post-World War II pioneering families (like the Chapmans, Berryessas and Marianis) who nurtured this delicacy. The first recipe served here was Apricot Couscous, courtesy of Tyler Florence through the Food Network. Lucsious dried Apricots (wrapping nutrients and even medicinal properties, according to the Chinese) mixed with Whole Wheat Couscous, Almonds, Parsley, Green Onion, Lemon Zest and Mint from the ChezHelvetica Garden. Next, Apricot Bars (a recipe from the book) made with Apricots, Pineapple, Raisins and Lemon Juice, transported us to the paradise so aptly named by Steve Jobs!

Amaranthaceae – with Warm Bacon Dressing

From the edible flowering plant family Amaranthaceae (first grown in 14th century Persia), behold Spinach! Catherine de’ Medici, Queen of France, so loved Spinach, she insisted it be served at every meal. The name “Florentine” evolved for dishes using this leafy green in reference to Florence, her place of birth. From Catherine’s table in 1533 to ChezHelvetica’s in 2013, we dined on Spinach Salad With Warm Bacon Dressing. Sweet Red Onion and White Mushrooms from the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market and Baby Spinach from Trader Joe’s received their savory crown of thick sliced Bacon, Balsamic Vinegar and Dijon Mustard dressing. Homemade Chicken Soup and Acme Bread’s wonderful Pan de Mie completed this course of the feast, paired with lush Geyser Peak Sonoma County Chardonnay. Tory Farm’s first of the season Peaches, sauteed in butter and served a la Mode with roasted Walnuts, royally concluded this Saturday soiree!

Mind Shaft Society Meets ChezHelvetica in the Pataphysical Garden

Creativity pulsated this evening with art spawned from the Mind Shaft Society in the form of a Bon Appetit apron transformed with paint splats, apples from the threshold of the Pataphysical Slot Machine (now materializing in the Rheingold Garden) and delicious recipes discovered by ChezHelvetica. Courtesy of Food Network chef Tyler Florence, Salad Nicoise with Seared Tuna took center stage. Like an exploration in Asia, treasure was found in the New May Wah Supermarket on Clement Street with vibrant red ahi tuna. Haricots vert and potatoes from the Ferry Plaza Farmers’ Market cooked simultaneously with eggs, happily reducing both prep time and clean up. A piquant vinaigrette spiced with fresh tarragon and parsley doused the salad, while a Michael Pozzan Russian River Chardonnay quenched us. An irresistible Apple Crisp made from our friend’s Pippin apples with a topping of butter, brown sugar, and oatmeal (to which I added walnuts) was crowned by vanilla ice cream a la mode. The bright moon, waxing to blue, highlighted this special dinner.


A Candlelit Lunch

It’s a weekday. It’s lunchtime. Outside, it’s dark, cloudy and cold. Like magic, the burst of candlelight, vivid colors and warm food transform the day. Grilled stovetop, whole wheat and corn tortillas, avocado, baby spinach, cheddar cheese and salsa (embellished with Campari tomatoes) become Veggie Burritos. A Green Bean Salad (Food Network chef Ellie Krieger’s recipe) accompanies our entree. Trimmed and steamed green beans, fragrant toasted walnuts, vibrant parsley and a mustard vinaigrette burst with flavor. A happy union. BTW – the matchbook used to light the candles reads “Kathy & Freddy June 5, 1981”. More than 30 years later, the matches still ignite immediately.


Saturday Night Light

Q: What to have for dinner on a beautiful Saturday night that is equal parts elegant and light? A: Meyer Lemon Risotto and Seared Scallops! Inspired by a risotto recipe presented on the Today Show using créme fraîche,  spring greens and lemon juice, I ultimately used a recipe found on line through 101 Cookbooks. With the zest and juice from the abundant Meyer lemons from our friends’ gardens, chopped garlic, shallot, white wine, arborio rice, asparagus, zucchini, parsley, créme fraîche, and Pecorino-Romano cheese, this dish bursted with incredible richness and flavors. East Coast Bay Scallops from Bryan’s Market melted in our mouths, thanks to a Food Network recipe using butter and garlic. And what better for dessert than delicious strawberries from the Ferry Plaza Farmers’ Market dipped into that créme fraîche and golden brown sugar? Mouth-watering achieved new significance this evening!

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!!!