Friday, May 28, 2010

Happy Memorial Day Weekend!

Happy Memorial Day weekend everyone! With the big holiday weekend coming up we're on a foodie related vacation today! We were invited to a big foodie event about 3 hours north of here, an Abalone Dive and Foodie Picnic! We've been super excited about this for months and now the day is finally here (well okay, it'll be here around 5AM tomorrow when we leave the house). Unfortunately with all the prep work (2 dishes for 100 people! Yikes!) we haven't had the chance to get a post prepared for today. We're hoping to get a post prepackaged to show up on Monday morning, but we might not be able too. Instead we've decided to provide you with some pictures from a local farm around here called Hidden Villa that we took about a month ago.

Also, we wanted to take this chance to announce a new feature that is in development and introduce our first partner BTTR Ventures! BTTR Ventures (pronounced "Better") is a small company focused on urban, sustainable food, and their first product is simply amazing: a home grow kit for food grade mushrooms! Many cooks grow their own herbs and produce, but growing mushrooms can be problematic and downright dangerous to do on your own. BTTR's solution is a read made kit that will grow a crop of edible oyster mushrooms every 10 - 14 days, grown from recycled Pete's Coffee grounds. Sustainability AND caffeine, Charisse and I are super excited about this.

Next weekend we will get the chance to tour their urban mushroom farm and get a great understanding of their product, process and future plans. We'll be taking pictures and coming up with recipe ideas to showcase the mushrooms in a number of dishes for you all. They sent us a sample BTTR Gourmet Garden, and our mushrooms are growing as we speak or at least as we type. We're really excited about these mushrooms (one of the few times we can use that phrase and not get concerned looks) and can't wait to try them out. Look for some pictures next week, and recipes soon after!

The BTTR Gourmet Garden can be purchased through or through participating Pete's Coffee locations! Any links in this post direct you to our affiliates area. Any purchase from made by going through our links gives us a small return, and helps keep this blog running and us cooking!

Pictures of the Farm! 
 (after the break)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Zucchini Cakes and Herbed Sour Cream

One of Eric's favorite pastimes is hockey, going way back to the late 1980s around the time of The Trade. Eric's love of the game (Charisse considers it an obsession, Eric doesn't argue that point much anymore) has him played a few times a week over at Sharks Ice - San Jose, the San Jose Sharks practice facility in the adult league there. Its through these teams that we've made a number of new friends many of whom are becoming quite dear to us. Its for one of these new friends Erik and his wife Kendra that we made this dish during a little backyard BBQ. Eric's been itching to have some people over, light up the grill and enjoy the back patio and for once the weather co-operated (cold rainy weather in May? Who knew?). We were doing turkey burgers and wanted some kind of fun veggie dish to go side by side (or frankly this could have gone on top too) and Charisse came up with doing a zucchini (her almost favorite food) pancake thing. Essentially shredded zucchini griddled like its Sunday morning served under a herbed sour cream, this side is darn tasty and fund to eat. We ended up cooking them inside because our other BBQs weren't cleaned off enough to cook in (that's right, plural, we have three, and use them all). Using a cast iron skillet you can easily cook this over a BBQ grill, or even an open flame. It would make for an awesome camping trip meal!

Pictures and Recipe after the break

Monday, May 24, 2010

Chocolate Cobbler

We first had this chocolate dish at our good friend Jen's house. It was her birthday and being a chocoholic she had made several desserts featuring this ingredient. By the time Charisse made it to the dessert table she was disappointed to see all the chocolate cobbler was gone! This didn't stop her from stealing a few bites from her darling husband, but it wasn't enough! So this weekend Jen and Charisse planned a girls night in and neglected to mention to Eric that Jen's husband was working and not coming until it was too late. So Eric had to resign himself to a chick flick movie and girl talk night. Actually the night wasn't that bad, everyone agreed on Avatar and Chocolate Cobbler. While Avatar was a little disappointing , basically Pocahontas under blacklight the cobbler went well. No, not just well, it was amazing and we had it all to ourselves! This dessert reminded us very much of a chocolate molten cake, only with more gooey chocolate stuff inside! Definitely not a cake to be eaten lightly!

Pictures and Recipe after the break

Friday, May 21, 2010

Dutch Baby Pancake With Cinnamon Syrup

Breakfast is the only meal that can be had at any time of day, and never feels out of place. 10 AM or 10 PM, a bowl of cereal, some eggs and bacon, or a  home cooked waffle fills an empty stomach or a tired soul. We try and have breakfast and coffee together as much as possible, but these days our mornings together are few and far between. With our work schedules, we get the breakfast chance about once every other week, usually Saturday mornings. On those wonderfully special days we sleep in a little later, make a pot of french press coffee (infinitely better than using the machine) and whip up something to eat. Figuring out what to cook is always entertaining (Eric's suggestions usually start with "well we can cook up some bacon and..."). Last Saturday started with a request for bacon (denied) and turned into thoughts of pancakes, skillets and homemade syrup. While the buttermilk is always and forever a favorite (and sidekick to Eric's dad's blue eggs story), we wanted something different for you guys, something with a little more uniqueness to it. Enter the Dutch Baby Pancake. One Pancake to rule them all. Or at least serve them all. This could be another single pan dish (even though we mixed in a bowl first) and has a very different texture than a traditional buttermilk pancake. It's fluffier, and has a distinct omelet-esque flavor. It's like a pancake omelet with syrup added. That might sound odd, but trust us, its amazingly good, especially with the cinnamon syrup we made. The syrup of course could go with any breakfast cake. Can't wait till next breakfast!

Pictures and Recipe after the break

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Double Chocolate Chunk Brownies

Sometimes you need something sweet to get through the week, so to help you over the weekday hump, today is brownie day! Double Chocolate Chunk Brownie day to be precise. For a chocolate lover what is better than brownies? Being choco-holics ourselves, we can answer that question.... more chocolate! These brownies are super easy to make and will satisfy your coco craving without a doubt. Here in the Petruno household dessert is always a major food group and we are always looking for yummy treats to serve after a hearty meal. After making complicated tarts, upside down cakes and custards, we wanted something simple that could be thrown together and tossed in the oven yet still be mind bendingly good. These brownies bended the mind and easy to throw together, in other words these brownies were just the ticket. The key to these tasty treats are the chunks of chocolate that float inconspicuously throughout. They simply melt in your mouth and are perfect when washed down with a nice tall glass of icy cold milk.

Pictures and Recipe after the break

Monday, May 17, 2010

Shrimp With Green Sauce and Zucchini Ribbons

This was probably the most beautiful pasta we have made so far. With amazingly fresh vegetables in the stores right now we want to incorporate them into every dish we make. Zucchini is Charisse's absolute favorite vegetable and pasta is her favorite food, so any time we can combine the two, Charisse is a happy happy girl. The only problem with having a favorite food that is healthy for your, inexpensive and easy to cook is that you end up cooking it a couple of times a week and after awhile sauteed zucchini gets boring. This is where a couple of kitchen gadgets come in handy. Somehow, cutting your veggies differently (julienne for example) creates an entirely new texture and gives the same old veggies a new kick. We decided on some beautiful thick zucchini ribbons to serve with our shrimp and pasta. If you have a potato peeler in your drawer you can create zucchini, squash, or carrots ribbons, peeling the veggie lengthwise and presto, veggie ribbons! This dish is very light and healthy and we were surprised by how flavorful this dish was considering there weren't too many ingredients involved, but honestly, sometimes those "simple" dishes are the best. This is a perfect summertime dish served with a fruity, chilled white wine.

Pictures and Recipe after the break

Friday, May 14, 2010

Bacon Stuffed BBQ Burger

This burger was designed especially for Eric, yet another victim of the food network (DARN YOU CABLE!). After watching "Burger Paradise" the other night, we were gearing up to make a simple every day weeknight salad for dinner. Unfortunately Paula Dean came on. With more burgers. Really good looking burgers. At that moment Eric decided he just had to have a burger "right this second..." and of course for Eric, it had to be topped with bacon. Now Charisse likes to stack her burgers with all kinds of veggies like lettuce and tomatoes and whatnot. She even prefers to skip the bacon (primarily because she doesn't like it when you bite into it and all the bacon comes out in the first bite). So Charisse engineered a compromise. Bacon stuffed the right into the middle of the burger. That's right, bacon with every bite. And she didn't stop there, she imagined a burger full of cheese, and bacon and sauce and every amazing flavor you can imagine. We finally settled on BBQ sauce basted burgers filled with bacon cheese spread and topped with red onions, lettuce and homemade ranch sauce. Now if you really want to bribe (or reward) that significant other in your life (or attract one maybe? "Hey baby, wanna try my burger?" No? Does Eric have the worst pick up lines ever? Yup) try this burger. After dinner, Eric was so overwhelmed with burger delight, he actually did all the dishes and cleaned up the kitchen!

Without being asked.

Pictures and Recipe after the break

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Thai Peanut Slaw

Here is our second beautiful spring salad from the weekend, a Thai Peanut Slaw. We came across some brilliant red cabbage at the market and decided this was a perfect ingredient to base a dish on and what better dish to make from red cabbage than cole slaw?  Now you also have to factor in that Charisse loves Thai food, and is obsessed with anything peanut based. So when we were talking about what to make, Charisse said she wanted to recreate a slaw from a popular local restaurant, a Thai Peanut Salad. There are not many ingredients in this slaw, it's pretty basic full of crunchy cabbage, fresh cilantro and crushed peanuts, the flavor really comes from the dressing. No most cole slaws are identified as being a big pile of white goop, with some cabbage tossed in for color. Growing up neither of us really cared for the traditional cole slaw just for that reason. It always turns out pasty and gooey with way too much mayo (which doesn't pack any flavor, just fat). We kept the mayo to a minimum, which let this slaw have some extra pizazz and it would pair up great next to some BBQ chicken or fish!  Actually I just ate it plain for lunch the next day and it was great!  We dream of a Asian marinaded pulled pork sandwich with a big pile of this slaw stacked on top. 

Pictures and Recipe after the break

Monday, May 10, 2010

Red Beet Salad with Greens

Spring is here in California and that means amazing fresh fruits and veggies. The farmers markets are jammed packed with colorful carrots, ripe strawberries and tons of other goodies that inspired this weeks recipes.  We were in the mood for salad this weekend and vegetable creations were a hit. This weeks decisions were destined for a series of pot luck style dinners, and these brightly colored creations fit the bill perfectly, we didn't even worry about them getting cold! We started off our weekend with a bright Red Beet Salad with Greens. We were a little bit worried that everyone would wonder where the hearty dishes like Potato Leek Gratin or the Ricotta and Spinach Gnocchi were, but the group was happily surprised by the lite but tasty side dish. The original plan was based around golden beets, but after scouring the markets, we there was not a golden beet to be found, so we went with red. Tossed in with the ruby red beets are the sauteed leafy green tops of the root with a bit of garlic and olive oil. This adds an extra punch of vitamins and also adds to the dishes beautiful color. Topped off with an orange vinaigrette, this salad is great tasting and really filling! One helpful hint: Be careful with your beets. Although the color is beautiful, it WILL stain just about anything it touches, including clothes and hands. Soaking your hands with a bit of vinegar after wards will take care of your pink palms. 

Check out our new wood cutting board! Our good friend Steve Ciccarello made us this beautiful new checkerboard cutting board as a gift and an amazing background on!  It is absolutely gorgeous with a pattern of purpleheart, walnut and trimmed in a figured maple finish.  We are so excited for a new upgrade in the kitchen and it adds so much to our photos!  If you would like your own homemade cutting board let us know and we will put you in touch with Steve!  Trust won't be disappointed! 

Pictures and Recipe after the break

Friday, May 7, 2010

Caramelized Onion and Goat Cheese Fritata

Who says you can't have eggs for dinner? In fact we find ourselves facing breakfast for dinner on a regular basis.  Waffles, french toast and bacon are always appropriate in this household, any time of the day. A fritata is a great way to satisfy those breakfast craving and still get your veggies in and great protein too. It's also a great way to rid your fridge of any left over veggies, which helps prevent waste, and gets the kids to eat them too. Have one zucchini left? throw it in! Some chard and half an onion.? throw it in! Pretty much anything will work. For this version, we used a base of caramelized onions and cremimi mushrooms (which are one of the best mushrooms). I also used some fresh chevre broken up into small pieces and floated throughout the egg mixture. This is making my mouth water for more just typing it. Once again this dish is so easy to make, and if you have a little vegetable garden of your own everything should be right there, fresh as can be. This dish is perfect for a nice hearty brunch (remember its Mother's Day on Sunday)! Paired with farm fresh strawberries and champagne this could be the best breakfast in bed for your favorite mother!

Pictures and Recipe after the break

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Penne Bolognese

We know what your thinking. You looked at the name and thought "pasta again?" Darn right you did. And you liked it when you glanced down the post and found Beef and Bacon on the list. Beef and bacon in a penne bolognese dish. That makes this dish the best pasta dish ever. Which is why this dish is a regular in the Petruno household, Eric requests this hearty pasta on almost a weekly basis and Charisse of course never complains about it. Charisse learned to make homemade sauce from her grandma Butera, and Eric learned from his mother. We perfected our sauce together while we still lived in San Francisco, and Charisse has since dug deep into her Italian heritage (and close proximity to her Italian grandma growing up 10 houses down the street living off of homemade meatballs, cookies and pizza as a kid) to make this the best sauce ever. Charisse's Grandma grew up in Campbell Ca and was raised by her Sicilian born parents. This is the source of her Italian cooking roots which she thankfully passed along to Monica and Charisse.

Now about that penne bolognese. The best part about a pasta like this, is you can really experiment with it. Try different kinds of meat, different spices and different shapes of pasta. In this dish we went with a combination of bacon and good quality ground chuck, but have also used ground lamb or ground turkey which gives a twist to the dish. One of these days we are going to try a duck bolognese. Eric seems to always request a Duck dish whenever the San Jose Sharks play Anaheim.
Generally traditional bolognese sauces usually call for chopped celery as well, but we all know that Charisse is not a celery fan so we said forget it. Serve this sauce on a cool night over a thick pasta that will stand up to the bolognese, lots of romano cheese and a side salad or some crusty bread, and don't forget the big italian red wine (Eric's favorite is a Chianti Reserva)!

Pictures and Recipe after the break

Monday, May 3, 2010

Chocolate Carmel Banana Upside Down Cake

"Chocolate Carmel Banana Upside Down Cake", long name, delicious results. Also quick and easy! This cake is a must do for those deep dark chocolate lovers out there, but you should also love banana. Charisse does *not* love bananas. Actually she hates bananas, just the smell is enough to make her gag. Something to do with her dad leaving a banana under the seat of her car when she was younger, it rotting and stinking up the car for weeks. She is what we call "banana sensitive", she is able to detect even the slightest hint of the fruit hidden in anything you serve her. But since we were cooking Patrick and Monica's anniversary present dinner, and Patrick requested this cake, Charisse set aside her dislike of bananas. We were all very proud of her. Now banana slices covered in caramelized brown sugar and deep dark chocolate cake probably sounds amazing to almost everyone in the world, but Charisse was there picking off the slices and going for the dark, moist, and delicious chocolate cake underneath. And she calls Eric a picky eater (he is). Even with banana sensitivity at the table the Chocolate Carmel Banana Upside Down Cake was a hit. When Monica had seconds and then called the next morning wondering if there was any left, we knew we hit it just right. We did this upside down cake in a traditional 9 inch cake pan instead of the cast iron like the Pinapple Upside Down Cake.  Instead I made it in a traditional 9 inch cake pan.  Charisse cooked the caramel topping a bit longer than normal which made it somewhat crunchy, adding a fun texture that tasted great. And great taste is the whole point right?  

Pictures and Recipe after the break