Monday, March 24, 2008

Up and Running

Big step for me! I've been doing wedding cakes and small gigs on the side for a few years, but mostly for my friends or friends of friends. I've been meaning to launch a business, pick a name, and create a website but for so long the perfect name was hiding from me. After a quickfire brainstorming session relegated to the inner recesses of my brain, I found something I was very very excited about. I checked the domain registry to see if was available, check! I just had to confirm the grammar and spelling, and that the translation was accurate, check!

I now present Belles Bouchées! That translates as beautiful bites (pronounced 'bell boo-shay'), and while my french friend told me it's not an actual expression, he reassured me that it does make sense! I was drawn to the name because I am driven to make food that is not only beautiful to the eye, but to all the senses. Eating is about so many things; the way it looks, tastes, nourishes you and the community. It's about cultural and religious perspective and enjoyment too. Please, pass on the site to friends who might be getting married, or want a dessert buffet at their next art opening or cocktail hour. Thanks for your support! Bon Appétit!!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

A Bay Area Blessing

One of the many blessings of living in the bay area, of which there are many, is the abundance of high quality grocery stores whose priorities match mine. When it comes to food, even on my tight budget, I do not like to cut corners. Yes, I'm frugal with how I spend my money, but if an apple is 40 cents more a pound because it comes from a local farm instead of New Zealand that is money well spent. Many foods don't have the real cost ( cost to your health, the environment, the workers, the public health, etc... ) built in to the price you pay at the store. What is the impact of buying that apple from across the globe versus one you bought from your 'backyard'? I think the more grocery stores that support local seasonal agriculture, the more people will see how easy and affordable it is to eat that way. My first favorite find after moving to the city was Golden Produce. Not too pretty from the street (so much so that I avoided it for a few months, embarrassingly enough!), but chock full of wonderful produce. They have many organic offerings, and lots of seasonal veggies. Even a dairy case, dry bins and small grocery selection too. They even just opened up a Golden Natural Foods down the street with a butcher and more extensive grocery selection, with even a wall devoted to teas! There are many other grocery stores that do this on a larger scale, such as Rainbow Grocery and Berkeley Bowl. Berekely Bowl has a case full of butter for which I have a weakness. There are many choices, and I always stock up when I stop in!! I love supporting these stores that support the small local farms and stock products from the companies that prioritize the environment. There are a lot of factors that shape the food industry, but the consumer is still left with a lot of power. By asking your grocer to stock local goods, which in turn you can buy, gives you a chance to support these small businesses! Your dollar goes a long way in showing support and affecting change! Buy local, seasonal goods at your farmers market, and if you're lucky like me, at your grocery store.

La Salade Lyonnaise

This simple french salad is one of my all time favorites. It is at once satisfying yet light and perfect on a summer day. I took this salad to the next level by adding - so ripe they couldn't last one more day - yellow tomatoes on the side. Because there are so few ingredients, this salad comes together just as quickly as any other salad even with the poaching of the eggs. As with all recipes that have only a handful of ingredients, search out the best and you can't go wrong.

Salade Lyonnaise for two
3 c mixed greens and/or frisée ripped into manageable pieces
1 T vinegar, red wine works well
3 T olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
fresh chives, chopped
1 very ripe tomato, cut in thick slices
2 eggs (as fresh as possible, the whites will be better!)
2 slices of baguette

Make sure the lettuce is washed well and dried. The dressing will not adhere to lettuce that is wet. Meanwhile, bring a medium pot of water, only about 1.5 - 2" deep, to a gentle simmer. The water does not need to be a full boil. Put a 1/2 tsp of vinegar in with the water. This helps keep the white from fraying a bit, and is only necessary if your eggs aren't very fresh.

Crack the eggs into two small separate bowls or cups. When the water is at a gentle simmer, tenderly slide the egg into the water. It should just sit there, and the whites start to cook. Let poach until desired doneness, anywhere from 1.5 min - 3 min. I like my yolk quite runny, it adds to the salad.

Toast the baguette slices while the eggs poach, and mix the dressing. In a small bowl with the vinegar add a good pinch of salt and pepper. While whisking, add the oil. Pour over greens and toss until well coated. Slice tomato and sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper as well! Arrange greens on a plate with tomato slices and baguette slices around the salad.

When eggs are done, remove from water with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel to absorb some of the water. Transfer eggs onto the lettuce et voilà! Enjoy immediately.