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I think Angela believes I’ve abandoned my attempts at classic French cuisine (as if or if ever) to somehow…descend to the cuisine of my genetic ancestors of Eastern Europe. You know, all those Slavs whose mainstay meal would be boiled cabbage, onions, bread and road kill.

Seriously! While one can conclude that Eastern European cuisine isn’t yet elevated to the status of certain other countries own, they all have a basic peasant charm which I like. I don’t have to wear a babushka to cook, and while I never grew up eating buckwheat groats, they are a nice and pleasantly crunchy grain to fill up on. And they’re nutritious, as well.

Wifey said, “Its filling.” Hardly high praise, but for a Monday night, I’ll take what I can get.

I started with buckwheat groats or kasha, if its toasted, and measure it out. I sautéed a shallot and some prosciutto in some olive oil with half a dab of butter for more flavor, then added the kasha to the mix, sautéing the groats for a few more minutes. I then added one and a half cups of low-sodium chicken broth and brought the entire pot to a rolling boil. I left it there for a few minutes until most of the liquid seemed absorbed, then turned down the temperature and simmered it for another several minutes.

Once it seemed pretty well cooked, after adding a bit more broth a couple if times, I turned off the heat, sprinkled diced parsley, bits of feta, and a squeeze of half a lemon into the pot. Then served it.

It was, as my wife put it, filling. The kasha was nutty with a distinctive flavor, the feta and prosciutto added a measure of flavor as well, and it wasn’t bad at all. I think that a bit more onion and prosciutto couldn’t have hurt, but much like oatmeal, this is the sort of grain that generally doesn’t elicit a whole lot of excitement. I have no doubt that a chef of some greater skill than I could have coaxed more intrigue from this, but…it was decidedly ok.

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Oh, horrors. Seafood with cheese? Isn’t that one of the basic caveats that any chef-in-training is instructed about at some point in their culinary training? Still…tuna melt sandwiches are popular and umm…the ‘melt’ part is usually a cheese of some kind, right?
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Wifey and I took breakfast at Caffé Trieste this morning; a leisurely repast of hot coffee and egg and ham-stuffed croissants. While Angela surfed the net, I sat down with my latest cookbook, A Platter of Figs And Other Recipes by David Tanis, and as ever…oddly…tears would come to my eyes unbidden over reading his recipes. I’m not sure if its because I think of all the years that cooking in my life was not a pursued passion and my passions were ‘wasted’ or that the time left to me to improve my skills and experience would be limited to my descending years of retirement.
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20140813-194914-71354501.jpgTonight I was simply grasping at straws, trying to find a nice recipe for a couple of Trader Joe’s sockeye salmon fillets, and so I had to rely on the Internet. The first place I chose to look was the New York Times column by David Tanis, City Kitchen. I find his recipes often simple and delicious and generally reliable, so I have begun to hope that this dish, Wild Salmon with Green Sauce might fill the bill for a midweek dinner. The mystery is always– it looks good and reads good, but does it taste good?
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Another late morning work start for me at the Bowl, strting at 11am which is a mixed blessing…late start and time to relax before work, coupled with a late night return.

As the ‘cheese guy’ at the Berkeley Bowl West, I have a profile to the public and will often be greeted by relative strangers on the street, in cafes, and so forth. This morning a fellow at Caffe Trieste greeted me and asked if I had had any cheese for breakfast. “Not this morning,'” I responded. “I had pajeon, a Korean savory pancake“.
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Our darling girl Stephanie is back from traveling and had a window available for a couple of days to come by for dinner, as well as to bring along her latest…friend with whom things seem to be going smashingly, and we look forward to meeting him (we also desperately miss our son, Jake, living and working in So Cal but we can’t have everything). Steph’s friend is apparently quite the cook, she reports, and I wonder if I’m pulling out some stops to impress him more than our usual dinner guests. Well, don’t know, but anything that presses me to up my cooking game a bit isn’t a bad thing.
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I have a couple large pieces of the pogača bread I made a few days ago still in the freezer and refrigerator so thought to pull a piece out for breakfast. I poached two eggs (still working on the timing for soft boiled), toasted some of the bread, and chopped up some avocado to spread on the toast, upon which the egg, sporting some pepper and fleur de sel would repose. For an added twist, I chopped up some pickled radish I’d made the might before and added it to the mix.

Anyway, glad to have gotten a head start on the day: I’ve got a litshoad of cooking to do today.

Last night while in the midst of preparing for a big Berkeley Banchan Bash, on my way home I dropped in the library nearby to look at the cookbooks and there was one of David Lebowitz’s books, Ready For Dessert. There was a chocolate, flourless cake recipe in there that looked pretty tempting so… I took a pic of it and chose to make it that evening.

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I had no particular intention to eat the cake…I just felt like baking, is all. As I had all the ingredients on hand, including the peculiar cocoa nibs that less experienced bakers (like me) don’t quite know what to do with, I thought I’d give it a shot.
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It really couldn’t have been easier. Cubed mango, sliced figs, a dollop of fresh yogurt, and some toasted pecans in a bowl. A slice of thick Swedish nut bread and a cup of coffee.

No extra sweetener, just in-season fruit. I had considered toasting walnuts and pistachios as well but opted to keep it simple at the last minute.

And now off to work (sigh!).

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