Last weekend was busy, productive and fun. On Friday night Aaron and I went to Sbicca which is a cute little restaurant in Del Mar, for a glass of wine. We get coupons from Restaurant.com that cost $2 for a $25 certificate. Some of the restaurants that participate put regulations on what you can use the $25 for (food only, no alcohol, etc.) Sbicca has no such rules so it's perfect! We can just sit at the bar and and some drinks. It's practically free! After we had wine we stopped at Roberto's Taco Shop on the way home and I got a veggie burrito. Yum!
We do the Restaurant.com thing at the Red Tracton in Del Mar too. The Red Tracton is an old steak restaurant with a piano bar and lots of old rich drunk guys. It's dark and has smokey glass and old red leather booths. I love it! It's sort of odd, but I love the nostalgia of it. Aaron and I went there on Thursday before heading to Cirque de Soliel. We each had a drink, we shared a huge salad and bread, and Aaron had one of their enormous baked potatoes. I think with tip we had to pay an extra $7 on top of the $25 certificate for a whole meal! Seriously, check out Restaurant.com. Kooza (the Cirque show) was great. It was more of a traditional circus storyline than shows I have seen in the past. The music was more of a component too, which was great. In the past, the music was more like background music. This time, they had a woman singing and men with horns. The music was great and stood out much more. If you have never been to a Cirque de Soliel show, I would highly recommend it. There is just something about it! It is truly an amazing experience. And for me it doesn't hurt that it's French. I mean...it's in English but has lots of French Humor...but you know how I am such a francophile. We actually got our tickets for the show for half off! Which is a good thing...it's usually really expensive.
Back to last weekend. On Saturday I cleaned and cleaned and cleaned and then I did my taxes. Boring but necessary. And I am getting a little money back! Bonus!
On Sunday, the weather was wonderful, so Peroni and I went for a walk along the coast. This was along Highway 101 in Cardiff and Encinitas. Not too shabby.....
The walk was really nice. We then headed to the farmer's market in Solana Beach and I really wanted to take some pictures but it was PACKED and there was no room for me and my camera. I think everyone was so happy to see all the sunshine after we have been under rain and clouds for the past few months. I also ate an amazing veggie crepe at the farmers market.Yum. Then I went to the grocery store to pick up some final ingredients for our dinner. We had Rosemary and Raymond over (my cousins from Cardiff). I made a delicious dinner!
For appetizers we had radishes, butter, and fleur de sel on crusty bread from the farmers. In France, people take radishes and dip them in butter and then salt. It is delish but not very healthy. I thought this would be a good way to get the same flavor combination without using too much butter. It turned out really great.
The first course of dinner was a chickpea and leek soup inspired by Jamie Oliver. I boiled dried chickpeas until I had about two cups worth. I am telling you....dried chickpeas taste SO much better than canned! Seriously, it is amazing what a difference it makes. It also costs much less. Of course, it takes a lot of time to boil the chickpeas when they are dried. I also soak them (and any dried beans for that matter) overnight before I boil them. It helps to take away their gaseous effects. :)
Anyway, back to the recipe: So take 2 cups of boiled chickpeas and boil them with two peeled, roughly diced red potatoes until the potatoes are mushy. While those are cooking, take 2 large leeks or 4 small ones and cut off the outer leaves. Slice them long way and then slice them up into small half moons. Soak them in cold water to clean them and get all of the dirt off. Then drain them off and saute them in olive oil with as much chopped garlic as you want. Also add some S and P. Once the leeks are softened, add the potatoes and chickpeas. Add in 3-4 cups of broth...I used vegetable. Simmer for about 10 minutes. Then you can serve it like this or if you want to thicken it up, you can use an immersion blender to blend some of the soup. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with lots of Parmesan cheese. Yum! Sorry, I didn't get a picture. This soup is really creamy and doesn't have any cream or milk. It's great.
For dinner we had an amazing fresh salad with mustard vinaigrette. I mixed a couple kinds of lettuce, arugula, and all kinds of fresh herbs together. I also blanched a small hand-full of green beans and mixed those in. The dressing was 3 tablespoons of olive oil, 1.5 tablespoons of red wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard, lots of chopped garlic, and S and P. The salad was AMAZING! I think it was the best part of the meal.
We also had citrus risotto which had a grapefruit, meyer lemon, an orange, two cuties, and a lime. I have been getting SO much citrus in my CSA shares so I wanted to find a good use for some of it. This recipe was inspired by an Alice Waters recipe from Chez Panisse Fruit.
First, zest about half of the zest of all the citrus fruits. Section off all the fruit and set those aside. Sauté one large or two small sweet onions in 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter in a deep, heavy bottomed pot. I use my le Creuset mid sized dutch oven. Also add in as much chopped garlic as you want. Add half of the zest as well. Add S and P. After the onions are softened, add in two cups of arborio rice and stir until each grain of rice is covered in oil. Make sure to have a nice pot of 4-6 cups of broth simmering away. Once the rice looks sort of clear (after about 2-3 minutes) add in one cup of dry white wine. You have to stir constantly now, so make sure you are ready for it....it also helps to have a nice boyfriend close by to share with the stirring. Once the wine is absorbed, add in a cup of broth and half of the fruit. Stir until the broth absorbs. Continue adding one cup of broth at a time, stir until absorbed. When the rice is cooked, add in the remaining zest and fruit. Adjust S and P. Stir in one more tablespoon of butter and as much Parmesan cheese as you want. Delish!
Here is the table all set and ready to go. In the back you can see some of my cookbooks. :)
For desert, I made an orange upside down cake. I used raw sugar and spelt flour to make it more healthy. Believe me, it tasted great. I got the recipe from a blog and can't find it. At least you can see the picture and check out Aaron in the background...stirring the risotto!
The dinner was delicious and I don't think anyone noticed that there was no meat involved. We got plenty of protein from the spelt flour in the cake and from the chickpeas in the soup.
It was a really nice dinner with good company. A great way to wind down a weekend.
Although I don't really like Mondays, every other Monday is an exciting treasure trove of VEGGIES! I get my CSA delivery! It's always an adventure because I never know what is going to be included. Well this week did not disappoint. It was a huge bounty!!! It's amazing we get all this great produce for $30!!! So cheap!!!! Check it out:
1 bunch of bok choy
4 heads of gorgeous cauliflower
6 heads of broccoli
1 bunch of radishes
1 huge bag of spring mix lettuce
1 huge bunch of carrots
2 huge onions
2 red bell peppers
2 baskets of strawberries
1 bunch of dandelion greens
If you ask me, that is a deal for $30 worth of local, organic produce. The fun comes with deciding what to do with all of this! Last night we made pasta with cauliflower, broccoli and pecorino romano cheese. Simple but tasty!
I also made curry with cauliflower, chickpeas, and green peas. Obviously we have had lots of salads. Tonight I am going to make a pot of soup to have during the week. I am also going to make a sautéed veggie pizza.
Yesterday, Aaron and I went down to Pacific Beach and Mission Beach to wander around and have lunch. PB was packed and we couldn't find parking so we ended up parking at Belmont Park in Mission Beach and walking down to Saska's for lunch. I had a shrimp and avocado sandwich and Aaron and I shared an artichoke salad. I also had some kind of wheat beer that was really good. The weather was perfect. The only bummer was that we wanted to walk on the boardwalk with Peroni and there are no dogs allowed! I never paid attention when I lived there because I didn't have a dog. We don't get down to PB and MB that much anymore. We had to walk on the street which wasn't a problem...it just would have been better to see the ocean or the bay. Mission Beach is full of hippies and gorgeous 20 somethings so there is always lots to look at. There was a ban placed on alcohol in all San Diego beaches a few years ago. But there is a loophole which many of the 20 somethings figured out: You can drink in the water! So they were having TUBE-A-POOLOOZA in the bay! There were all kinds of floaty devices and I am guessing that a ton of beer was consumed. Aaron and I thought the water in Mission Bay must be gross all that beer= lots of pee in the water!!!!!! YUCK!
I have a soft spot for Mission Beach because I used to live there. It was a fun couple of summers, that was before the ban on alcohol so you know lots of beer was consumed. I did lots of barbecuing, made lots of friends, did a ton of running, riding my red beach cruiser, swimming, tanning, etc. It was a great time and I am so happy I got to live at the beach for a few years. But it's kind of for young people...so I bought a condo in suburbia and moved away from the beach. I guess I felt it was time to be an adult. :( But I do miss the water and all the pretty views. The bars and restaurants and shopping are pretty enjoyable too.
Anyway...I leave you with some pictures of Mission Beach. Enjoy the rest of the weekend.