Summer Basil Pasta Salad

While I often eat this in the summer, it is so delicious that I think you can eat it any time of year.  And who doesn't love carbs as a comfort food? 

Recipe for Kathleen's Summer Basil Pasta Salad
-Cook 1 lb penne according to package directions
-While pasta is cooking, whisk together in small bowl: 1 clove minced garlic, grated peel of 1 lemon, 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, 2 tablespoons rice vinegar, salt and pepper to taste, and slowly add 4 tablespoons of olive oil.
-When pasta is drained, combine in large bowl with: toasted pine nuts, 1/2 cup grated parmesan, 1/2 cup slivered basil, 1/4 cup minced parsley, and 3 halved plum tomatoes.   
-Whisk in dressing.  Enjoy!


Cheval Blanc in Provence

My second year living in Paris, my mother and I took a wonderful trip from Paris to Provence in March.  We stayed in the adorable B&B, Mas Pomona, in Cheval Blanc.  It is run by husband-and-wife couple, David and Marianne, who are the most wonderful hosts.

Almost every evening we would have fresh olives, tomatoes, a baguette, and local cheeses bought from the town grocer.  We would eat in the living room where David and Marianne had a fire waiting for us every night.  In the morning we would have the dining room to ourselves and there was always tea, fresh croissants, jams and orange juice waiting for us.
As we were there in the off-season, we were lucky enough to be the only guests at the time and on the last night, David and Marianne were so kind as to invite us to their anniversary dinner at the unassuming yet superb restaurant down the street, L'Auberge de Cheval Blanc. It started off with Kir Royal apertifs in the courtyard and continued in the dining room with a five-course meal and live music.  By the end of the 5-hour long meal, our hosts were serenading the restaurant with the band.  It really was a night to remember.


Lazy Breakfast

Sometimes, it's nice to just be lazy and have a cozy weekend inside.  So- if the skies are gray in your hometown, cook up some hot chocolate and homemade whipping cream and enjoy some croissants that are almost as good as homemade (with none of the hassle involved.  Anyone who has ever made puff pastry knows what I'm talking about.)  Trader Joe's carries these adorable breakfast bites in the frozen section.  All you have to do is remember to take them out the night before and place them on a baking sheet.  The next morning these little babies will have risen quite a bit.  If you please, using a pastry brush, spread on a thin layer of egg for a shiny finish.  After a short time in the oven, you have (almost as good as homemade) baked goodness ready to eat!
 The croissants after a full night of rising


Scenes from Fall

Autumn around here is in full force, in typical Northwest fashion: short, gray days, brief pockets of sunshine in the afternoon, and lots of rain and blustery wind.  By about February it can all get a little overwhelming (I wonder how many Seattleites go to Hawaii in January?) but right now we are savoring it and celebrating it.  We have our jack-o-lantern plant, 'mums, pumpkins, and leaf wreath on display outside.  Candy corn lights and other autumn and Halloween-themed displays decorate the inside.  We go all out.  My mom even put on Mr. Fred's Halloween collar (despite the fact that he hates this holiday!)  


Pizza Party

 This summer we decided to have a last-minute pizza dinner so rather than making our own dough and waiting for it to rise, we bought some from the grocery store.  We decided to make a traditional margherita as well as recreate (to the best of our ability) one of our favorite pizzas, the bianca, from Tutta Bella Pizzeria in Seattle.  It was a lot of fun and a great alternative to homemade dough when you're low on time.


Zucchini Fritters

Last month I made zucchini fritters from Simply Recipes by way of Deb's adaptation on Smitten Kitchen.  They were the perfect end-of-summer treat.  I didn't have cheese cloth to drain out the excess water from the shredded zucchini but you can use a towel instead.  The key is not ending up with soggy fritters- I think I might use cheese cloth in the future just to wring out every last drop.  It's still zucchini season and these are a great treat I'll keep in my cooking repertoire for the future.  


Birthday Snapshots

'Birthday season' around here just wrapped up a few weeks ago.  Here are some of the highlights from the dessert table.
Homemade September peach ice cream
Cake rising in the oven


Breakfast in Paris

During my most recent trip to Paris in late June, I was so busy catching up with old friends that eating out was not a main priority.  So I was pleasantly surprised when I stepped into Noctudîne in the third arrondissement one morning.  The women behind the counter greeted my companions and me warmly.  We felt like we were in their kitchen especially when one of them said the strawberry jam was handmade by elle-même.

 I ordered a crêpe with her enticing jam and took a seat in the cozy interior.  Aside from the strawberry jam , there were numerous other classic sweet toppings as well as a wonderful selection of savory galettes made with buckwheat flour.  My brother enjoyed every last bite of his 'Norwegian' smoked salmon galette.  You can find Noctudîne at 57 Rue de Turenne in the 3rd arrondissement.