Chrismukkah!

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!

 

Savoring the Mediterranean 👄

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!

    

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!

      

An Unprecedented Fourth

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!

      

 

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Cor’onion’a Soup

Surreal times call for inspiration and imagination. At ChezHelvetica, this meant diving deep into cupboards and sacks of produce and staples to create a heartwarming dinner. Behold mouthwatering French Onion Soup accompanied by Brown Rice/ Romaine Salad. Three remaining cubes of Maggi Bouillon de Pot-Au-Feu (best used dates long since gone) became the Beef Broth in which Onions sautéed in Butter and California Olive Ranch Olive Oil simmered with Holland Cooking Sherry, Dried Thyme, Salt and Pepper. Grated Mozzarella and Parmesan Cheese, broiled atop pieces of Safeway‘s Signature Oat Nut Bread, crowned the soup. A piquant Caper Vinaigrette dressed the fresh Romaine, a socially-distanced gift from the garden of friend ‘Pataphysician Dr. Jardin. Likewise, the array of Citrus on the table from the Florin Gardens. Bowls of Ben and Jerry’s Cookie Dough Ice Cream concluded the meal; fun fact – it is even more delicious in self-isolation!

 

Divine 89

Happy Birthday Mom! ChezHelvetica and Family celebrated a woman of unequalled creativity and style with all of the color and vibrancy befitting this remarkable Mother, Grandmother and Aunt. Mimosas of La Marca Prosecco and TJ Orange Juice kicked off the gathering with toasts, hugs and kisses. Fluffy Carrot Pancakes bathing in luscious Cream Cheese Syrup and Candied Pecans starred in this delicious luncheon. Lox from the House of Bagels and Tory Farms Oro Blanco Grapefruit, Medjool Dates, Organic Blueberries and Tangerines, sprinkled with O Organics Shredded Coconut, accompanied the Pancakes. Lively conversation with news of the latest jobs, homes and events brought more smiles to the birthday table. The finale of Chocolate Chip, Blueberry and Bran Muffins – illuminated with one beautiful candle – brought wishes of happiness and good health to all!

          

Fare Trade

CobbNanci Q. How to thank a dear friend for an exquisite painting? A. work of art for a work of art – fare trade! While ChezHelvetica’s centerpiece Cobb Salad doesn’t match the effort taken to create the beautiful canvas, the overture was heartfelt. Robert Cobb’s classic Brown Derby recipe received a new coat of culinary paint with the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market‘s freshly-picked Romaine Hearts, Curly Endive, Rotisserie Chicken and award-winning Point Reyes Farmstead Blue Cheese. Safeway‘s Farmer John thick-sliced Bacon, Open Nature Cage-Free Eggs, Kalamata Olives, and Trader Joe’s Avocado and Pearl Tomatoes completed the platter – all dressed in Stonehouse Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Balsamic Vinegar, Dijon Mustard and a touch of Organic Cane Sugar. (Sadly, I found the perfect Chives purchased to garnish the Salad untouched in the refrigerator the next day…) Wild Mountain Raw Honey showered Medina Farms Blackberries, Strawberries and Tory Farms Oranges, also sweetening Mighty Leaf Ginger Tea, as confidantes shared exciting secrets in the new chapters of their lives!NanciPainting2

Strata

MichaelStrataFor some Strata defines a level or class, at ChezHelvetica this means a delicious breakfast. Behold Apple French Toast Strata. The evening before serving, preparation for this French toast bake was almost done with the exception of the Sliced Almonds added just before going into the oven. Sautéed Trader Joe’s Organic Honey Crisp Apples andMichaelBreakfast Safeway’s 15-Grain Whole Wheat Bread soaked in Eggs, Milk and Half & Half, then scented by fragrant Spice Ace Organic Ground Nutmeg, Vietnamese Cinnamon and Sonoma Syrup Co’s Madagascar Bourbon Organic Vanilla Extract. Imagine the aroma when baking in the morning along with freshly brewed coffee. Juicy Strawberries and Blackberries from the VA Farmers Market and Dark Amber Maple Syrup from Quebec’s Beauce-Appalache region sent this down-to-earth meal straight into the Stratosphere . . .

MichaelFruit      MichaelSlice      MichaelCenter

 

 

From the Land of Don Quixote

Liz&JanBeforeMiguel de Cervantes beloved literary tale “Man from La Mancha” revealed new significance, and romance, on this summer evening at ChezHelvetica. With Spain as the exciting accent of this anniversary celebration, we toasted with Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Noirs along with Green and Manzanillo Olives, Almonds and Salmon Ahumado con Queso Fresco Montaditos (Smoked Salmon with Cream Cheese) and Honey Truffle bites. Tyler Florence’s warm Roasted Tomato Soup opened the meal with rich, savory flavors – Early Girl and Cherry Tomatoes, Garlic, Onion and Basil. The soup was accompanied by delicious Manchego, so named for Spain’s famed cheese made from the milk of sheep grazing the country’s La Mancha region. Pearl white corn kernels had fallen weightlessly into a bundt pan when making the featured entrée, a Salad of Grilled Chicken and Corn, Avocado and Baby Spinach, dressed with a Garlic and Liz&Jan appetizersRosemary-infused Vinaigrette (from Real Simple), paired with velvety Etude Pinot Noir. Like windmills spinning bliss, Neiman Marcus Delicate Lemon Squares, made with Meyer Lemons and crowned with Yellow Raspberries, created the perfect conclusion for “Life Happily Ever After, not an Impossible Dream!” (Muchas Gracias to the Fillmore and VA Farmers Markets, Trader Joe’s and Safeway as the food and beverage sources for this meal.)

 

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Liz&Jan Tomato Soup

 

 

In The Limelight

Fog-filtered super moonlight illuminated the beautiful round citrus center stage at ChezHelvetica on this Saturday evening. Limes originated in India or Malaysia, and then were grown on large scale in southern Iraq and Persia. The path of this variety proceeded to Sicily, Andalusia and the West Indies including the Florida Keys. West Indian, Mexican or bartender Limes garnered the Key Lime name in their association with the Florida Keys. A Saveur recipe for Grilled Prawns (posted on Facebook by my friend Phyllis) called for Finger Limes but aromatic Key Limes were a delicious understudy. Basil accented Lemon and Lime Juices drizzled the Gulf Prawns (from Safeway), delightfully spilling over the Roasted Yukon Gold Potatoes and Organic Broccoli (from Nunez Farm). Rich Kunde Chardonnay from Sonoma Valley accompanied our entree and also dessert of Tory Farms incredible Peaches and Roasted Inzana Ranch Walnuts. Spilling over – definitely the key words for this evening!