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Web-Fig-Tree-Cafe v3

Fig Tree Cafe

Fig Tree Café Executive Chef Alberto Morreale answers the question, “What’s for dessert?” with this warm bread pudding sweetened with figs and redolent with vanilla and rum. When it’s too hot to cook, enjoy a serving with a scoop of gelato at any of the popular café’s locations in Pacific Beach, Hillcrest and Liberty Station.

Fig Bread Pudding
Serves 4

1 loaf (16 oz.) brioche bread, sliced and cut into 1/4-inch cubes
10 egg yolks
3 T. brown sugar
2 c. heavy whipping cream
1 1/2 T. vanilla
1 1/2 T. rum
1/2 c. dried mission figs, sliced

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium-size bowl, beat together egg yolks and brown sugar. Add whipping cream, vanilla, rum and figs and mix for another few minutes. Add bread cubes and stir until thoroughly combined.

Coat a 6-by-6-inch baking pan with butter. Pour the mixture into the pan and cover with aluminum foil. Bake 25 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 5 minutes to allow the top to brown. Remove from oven and cool slightly. Serve while warm.


Beverage pairing: Port or Moscato

Rouge, Blanc & Bleu

With Independence Day and Bastille Day celebrations on the calendar this month, bring the best of American and French cuisines to the table. Here are three chefs’ tasty twists on classic fare that are worthy of fireworks.

“Who doesn’t love bacon and eggs?” asks Executive Chef Matt Gordon rhetorically. At his new Sea & Smoke brasserie in Del Mar, he gives spinach a sweet and savory twist. “Plus,” he says, “you meet your salad quota while eating it.” Enjoy this with a warm baguette for an elegant lunch.


Warm Spinach Salad

Serves 1

For the vinaigrette:

1/2 c. natural bacon, chopped

2 shallots, roughly chopped

1/4 c. Dijon mustard

1/2 c. red wine vinegar

1/4 c. honey

1/4 t. ground black pepper

1 1/2 c. grapeseed or other light oil

For the salad:

1/2 c. chopped bacon, cooked

3-4 c. organic baby spinach (Bloomsdale

Savoy, if possible)

1/2 c. dried figs, quartered

1/4 c. shaved Parmesan

1 warm poached egg


Toss the bacon and shallots in a touch of oil and sauté until soft and hot. Add mustard, vinegar, honey and pepper and stir to combine. Let cool. Place cooled mixture in a blender. With the blender on high, add the oil in a slow, steady stream. The vinaigrette can be made in advance and stored up to five days in the refrigerator.


To make the salad, place 2 to 3 oz. of the vinaigrette and the bacon in a wok. Place on the stove over medium heat to warm. Add spinach and figs and toss for about 15 seconds until the spinach is wilting a bit. Transfer salad to a bowl, top with the shaved cheese and poached egg and serve immediately.


Suggested pairing: Billecart-Salmon Brut Reserve Champagne or other sparkling wine

Sugar  Scribe 2


SUGAR & SCRIBE BAKERY

Memories of her Irish grandmother’s roasted Brussels sprouts inspired chef-owner Maeve Rochford of Sugar & Scribe Bakery in Pacific Beach to create this savory vegetarian pie. Always on the menu, it has proved popular with men who don’t equate its nutty goodness with “eating their vegetables,” she says.


Brussels Sprouts and Pecan Pie


For the pastry

1/4 c. butter, ice cold

1/4 c. margarine, ice cold

1 t. sugar

Pinch of salt

5 c. all-purpose flour

1/2 c. ice water


For the filling

3 c. whole Brussels sprouts

1 T. olive oil

1/8 c. onion, chopped

1/8 c. celery, chopped

1 T. capers

Zest of one lemon

1/4 t. salt

1/4 t. white pepper

1/4 t. black pepper

2 T. brown sugar

1/3 c. pecan pieces, broken

1 T. salted butter, room temperature

1/4 c. raw Yukon gold potato, finely chopped


For the egg wash

1 egg, lightly beaten with 1 t. of water


Chop butter into small pieces. Place it in a bowl with the margarine, sugar, salt and flour. Using your fingers, feather the butter and margarine into the dry ingredients until the mixture looks like loose breadcrumbs.


Mix in the ice water until just combined. Form the dough into a ball and chill for 2 hours.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll Brussels sprouts in olive oil and place in a castiron or other ovenproof pan. Roast for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool to room temperature. (Can be made in advance and refrigerated.)


Sauté onion and celery until tender.


Put the cooled Brussels sprouts in a large bowl. Gently fold in remaining filling ingredients, taking care not to mash the vegetables.


Butter a 10-inch pie pan. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and divide into two portions: 11.5 oz. and 3 oz. (Extra pastry can

be frozen for another use.) Roll the large portion into a 13-inch-diameter circle. Place in pie pan with dough overlapping the edges.


Place filling in dough and roll out remaining dough for a top crust. Place over filling and crimp edges. Using a knife, cut 4 or 5 vents in the top crust. Brush the crust with egg wash.


Bake 25 minutes at 350 degrees, until crust is golden brown. Remove from the oven, cut into slices and serve.


Suggested beverage: Guinness or dark chocolate stout

The-Poseidon

Poseidon Executive Chef Mourad Jamal lightens this brightly flavored seafood dish for summer by substituting gnocchi for garlic mashed potatoes.

Alaskan Halibut Tapenade with Spinach, Gnocchi and Roasted Red Pepper Coulis

Serves 2

For tapenade:

1/2 c. kalamata olives, chopped

1/2 c. green olives, chopped

3 T. diced fire-roasted bell peppers
(available at grocery stores), seeds removed

2-3 T. extra virgin olive oil

2-3 T. balsamic vinegar

For coulis:

4 fire-roasted red bell peppers, seeds
removed

2 T. olive oil

1 T. minced garlic

1 T. minced shallot

1 bay leaf

4 T. rice wine

For fish:

1 12 oz. Alaskan halibut fillet, cut in half

Salt and pepper to taste

For gnocchi:

7 oz. potato gnocchi

2 T. heavy cream

Salt and white pepper

For spinach:

1 T. olive oil

8 oz. fresh spinach

1 T. minced garlic

Mix tapenade ingredients in a small bowl
and set aside.

Purée coulis peppers in a blender. In a medium saucepan over medium-high
heat, add oil, garlic, shallot and bay leaf and cook 2-3 minutes. Add rice wine and peppers and cook an additional 15-20 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and purée.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Season the halibut with salt and pepper. Place on a greased cookie sheet and bake 8-12 minutes to desired doneness.

Meanwhile, prepare the gnocchi according to package instructions. Drain and place in a pan along with the cream. Cook briefly, stirring to coat the gnocchi. Season to taste. Keep warm while preparing the spinach.

Heat oil in a skillet. Add spinach and garlic and cook until spinach is wilted. Keep warm.

Place the spinach and gnocchi next to each other on warm plates and top with halibut. Sauce the plate with the red pepper coulis and place 2 T. of tapenade on top of the fish.

Suggested beverage pairing: An Italian white or light-bodied red wine


Readers-Choice 2014

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OliveOil

When the roots of a eucalyptus tree in my back yard began destroying nearby hardscape, I had to hire someone with a crane to pull it out. I filled the void with an olive tree — transplanted from another spot in the yard. I lack the incentive to brine the olives, so they end up in the green trash. The extent of my knowledge about olive trees has been limited to the watering and trimming needs of the only fruit bearer I grow but don’t harvest.
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