Dinner with Rhea, Allan, Abraham…starring chocolate cake

Sunday was a lazy day, recovering from all the dancing from Tiara’s reception Saturday night.  I was in pain but no pain, no gain.  One cannot go to a Filipino gig without some dancing!  Abraham insisted we dance..what is a mother to do!  It was so good to see the families and friends who came to celebrate my first niece’s grand occassion in an intimate and informal setting.

Sunday was in anticipation of Rhea’s visit.  She and Allan came  for a home cooked meal.  I cooked skirt steak marinated in Miso and Nobu salmon with a side of asparagus in sesame dressing.  We started with heirloom tomatoes with sliced avocado, burrata cheese, basil, Nunez de prado organic extra virgin olive oil, drizzled with 25  year old traditional balsamic vinegar of Modena. Vouette et Sorbet champagne Fidele to complement the food.

Just cut up the heirloom tomatoes (get the firm ones) any way you please.   Leave at room temperature.  Slice the avocados.  I like large slices.  I bought yellow and red tomatoes.  I laid out the tomatoes with the sliced avocados like an artist would paint a canvas.  The plate is your canvas.  You want  the picture to communicate and  insprie all your senses.  If you want to add salt, add fine seasalt and/or pepper.  Add a dollop or two of burrata cheese.  Sprinkle basil over this and drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Very simple and very fresh.   Yum…

Steak was not as good as normal.  Hmmm…I overcooked it.  I will have to make this again on their next visit.  Salmon was very flaky tender and just the right amount of miso.

The star of the meal was the Orange and Bourbon Chocolate cake.  The recipe is from the Spotted Pig in NYC, 314 West 11th St.  I followed their recipe but made a few tweaks.  I used 80% Valrhona chocolate and a little more bourbon (maybe that is why it was so popular)  and a huge orange for the zest.  I think this will be Allan’s cake and each time he visits, will have to make it.

Spotted Pig Orange and Bourbon Chocolate Cake 


½ lb bittersweet baking chocolate (at least 70%, I used Valrhona 80%)

½ cup unsalted butter (1 stick, cut up)

3 tbsp bourbon (I used more))

1 orange, zested

4 eggs

2/3 cup granulated sugar

Spiced cream

¾ cup chilled heavy cream

2 tbsp confectioner’s sugar

½ tsp ground cinnamon

¼ tsp nutmeg

1/8 tsp cardamom

1/8 tsp ground cloves

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Butter and flour sides of a round 9-inch baking pan and line bottom with parchment paper
  • Melt chocolate and butter in a double boiler, stirring until smooth.  Mix in bourbon and orange zest; set aside.
  • With an electric mixer, beat eggs and granulated sugar in a bowl until mixture is thick and pale yellow ribbons form, about 6 min.  Fold mixture into chocolate little by little.  Spoon batter into prepared pan.
  • Bake for 35 min or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool on a wire rack.
  • With mixer, beat cold heavy cream until frothy.  Add confectioners’ sugar and spices; continue beating until soft peaks form.  Chill in refrigerator.
  • Transfer cake to serving platter; garnish with spiced cream and chocolate shavings.
It was a very relaxing dinner with family, sharing food, recipes, “how to” on cooking,  Allan gave me lessons on wordpress.  We laughed, ate some more, a chance to get to know each other.  Rhea enjoyed browsing through the library of fashion design, jewelry and cook books.  The evening ended with a promise to return and Allan coveting the leftover choco cake inside a takeaway container.  I sent them on their journey with wine, jams, salad dressings, olive oil and bread.   The next day Rhea and Allan enjoyed leftovers in Big Sur.
A career is temporary, family is permanent.
Life is life!

Abraham Menor Art Show at Cukui

Abraham’s Art show is currently at Cukui, 229 Jackson Street, San Jose…Japantown. His artwork will remain posted till 11 May. Go see it. This year’s show is creative and edgy…get brainsoiled! And support a very talented person who’s life is about giving back to his community and family.Whilst there, buy one of Cukui’s t-shirts, if you dare to be cool….

An evening with Patrice Rushen

After cooking for a couple of days, time to unwind and take in a different kind of food:  music for the soul.  I must have music.  When I first moved to London, after dumping my belongings in the reception room of my flat, I went in search for my new CD player.  The flat was too silent without music.  I didn’t want to listen to my own horrific singing!  When I attend a good concert or listening to great jazz, I am in a different world.  I forget all my worries and stress and let the music consume me.  I needed a music fix after the dinner so my friend Virginia and I headed to Yoshis in San Francisco.  http://www.yoshis.com/

We went to see and hear Patrice Rushen and Friends.  Friends were Ndugu Chancler, Doc Powell, Everette Harp, Freddie Washington.  These are music greats and have been around bringing us much joy with their music/playing.  It helps as well that Everette is easy on the eyes as well as an exceptional sax player.

We had dinner first and Virginia had uni for the first time.  We paired our dinner with Prosecco and Rose champagne.  We had lobster blossom, lobster sushi roll and warm beets and asparagus salad.  After we were satiated, we headed to the venue. We were both excited and so looking forward to the concert.  That saying, “it is a small world” was real that evening.  As we headed towards the venue, Virginia recognized several of her co-workers.  They had attended the first show and were raving at how fantastic the music/concert was.  We were in for a treat!  We were not disappointed.  Go out and find a concert and feed your heart and soul with music.

Voila – Dinner

I almost forgot to take pictures…we were halfway done when we remembered.  Every dinner I host must tease and please the senses.  Food should be beautifully presented on dishes that may reflect the season or the mood  or because they evoke certain memories.  They should be pleasing to the eyes (perhaps even have some artistic bend) and therefore, theoretically may enhance the total experience.   I learned this lesson from visiting, working and living in Tokyo.  The Japanese really know how to unfold the evening to an adventure of all your senses when dining.  For this dinner I chose the color green, reminiscent of Spring as the main color for serving, specifically Japanese Oribe from Japan and locally made by potters who were influenced by Japanese design.  The exception was the beef burgundy which was cooked in a red casserole by Emile Henry…I love these red cooking pots.

Everyone had their own personal favorite but all agreed that the beef burgundy was even better than last time.  I used Julia Child’s recipe but I added a full bottle of wine and only 1 cup of broth.  I braised the leeks in sake.  I picked the meyer lemons for the tarte from my brother’s tree.  The Krug Flannery (the one that looks like a woven basket) was a Christmas gift from my good friend Ames.  You can get one from K&L Wines in Redwood City: https://www.klwines.com/.  If you do go, ask for Gary Westby, the friendliest and very knowledgeable champagne buyer for all of K&L.  I have learned much from Gary and you will too.

No pics of the fish as the photographer was iPhone challenged, had a few glasses of champagne!  The fish was very moist and I threw chervil, chives, tarragon, olive oil, garlic in the blender to marinate the fish overnight, then grilled right before dinner.

The chicken came out well but I liked the taste of the chicken better on Sunday.  I used fresh hedgehog, chanterelle and dried morel mushrooms and generous amount of wine.

We wind down dinner with Port and music of Greg Adams and East Bay Soul in the background,  happy to be in each other’s company.

I was elated that my friends enjoyed the food…their joy and satisfaction were my rewards.

Finally – A French Style

After 7 months of procrastination, I am finally going to start writing.  Why did I even want to start this?  It is for me:  to write what I feel like writing and for my family, especially my son, nieces and nephews.  I am not going to follow the rules of blogs, what for….I rarely have followed rules so why start now.  This is going to be more of a stream of musings, thoughts, or whatever I feel like writing.

So here goes…today was a hectic day with shopping and  preparing for my French style dinner tomorrow night.  A few of my friends requested that I make beef burgundy and I agreed.  I made this once last year and I had forgotten all the prep work needed, the browning of the meat, the braising of onion, sauteeing the mushrooms.  What I did learn from the last time I cooked this:  add more wine!  My butcher Ron at Whole Foods in Campbell (everyone knows this is my favorite WF…everyone is so nice, especially in the fish section), who is a whiz at picking and cutting meats, did a fantastic job of cutting the meat into 2×2…swear he does it with his eyes close and they were very uniform.  Despite my complaints of the laborious steps of preparation and cooking, I put a lot of love into my cooking.  I try to pair all meals with the wines that I believe will complement.  I always start each dinner with champagne.  This is my golden rule when I am hosting.  I love champagne..my favorite drink!

Life is meant to be enjoyed and lived fully so nourish your body with what you love.

The menu for the dinner:

A French Style Evening


Palate cleanse:  Champagne Dom Ruinart

(Blanc de Blanc)

Brie on baguette with medjool  date and organic honey

1985 Taittinger Artist Collection

Smoked salmon on avocado with dill and balsamic

Krug NV Grande Cuvee

Tinned foie gras, caramelized apples and onion

Cattier Brut Rose Kiss


Boeuf Bourguignon – roasted baby yukons and peas

97 Domaine bouchard pere & fills le corton grand cru, chateau de beaune, cote d’or

99 Volnay les caillepieds domaine de montille 

Chicken with Mixed wild mushrooms, vin jaune and cream

2004 Chateau Chalon, Macle, Jura

Fish in Fines Herbs, braised leeks and oven roasted tomatoes

Sweets and Cheese

Lemon Tarte

Chocolate and Almond Cake

Almond Honey Cake

Fresh Fruit

Cheese:  Dolce Blue, Mimolette, Bandaged Cheddar

1970 Fonseca Port

2003 Rieussec Sauterne

All meat, fish, veggies, fruit are organic and/or wild

So here is what the beef looks like after 4 hours of cooking and at least 1 1/2 hrs of prep.  And I have a nice view from my stove of my Japanese garden.  Now the tomatoes are roasting and I need to pulverize almonds for the chocolate cake.  I will post how the dinner turned out on Sunday.

Live Life Passionately and Passionately Live Life.  This is how I live my life.  Nieces and nephews…are you reading and listening?

Next few posts will include foodie discoveries in Cambodia and Vietnam.    Also, flashbacks of wondrous memories and travels.  All, forgive the misspellings or incorrect grammar…will get better as I practice more!