Showing posts with label Events. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Events. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Gooey White Cheddar Bacon Crostini + Tillamook Blog2Farm Summit Part 2

The adventures continue for the Tillamook Blog2Farm Summit with our travels to the Oregon coast.  After the Tillamook factory tour was complete, we loaded onto our party bus and headed west to the foggy Oregon coast.  We took a short detour to visit a lighthouse and vista point on the coast.  The sky was amazing and the views spectacular – what stunning sights.  The land is so lush and green compared to the drought stricken Bay Area – a welcome sight indeed.

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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Cheddar Cheese Beignets with Tomato Jam + Tillamook Blog2Farm Summit Part 1

Several months ago I received an email from Kelly at SodaPop PR inviting me to the Tillamook Blog2Farm Summit.  It was a simply click to respond to the email with a resounding YES.  I first met Kelly here and I was first introduced to Tillamook’s New Greek Yogurt.  It was simply divine and my favorite flavor is the Coffee House flavor.  I grew up with Tillamook but this was a perfect opportunity to learn more about this successful company and its high quality products.

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Saturday, May 25, 2013

Dole "Taste of Spain Salad Summit" Hightlights

Back in March I received a VIP invitation to participate in the Dole Taste of Spain Salad Summit.  There wasn’t much to think about  – three days in Carmel, tours of the lettuce fields and processing plant, cooking class, tapas, meeting other food bloggers, Eating Well Magazine, dinners, winery lunch and all being sponsored by Dole Salads – my answer was a resounding YES!

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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Virtual Wine & Appetizer Party for 4 Year Blogoversary + Avocado Toast with Chili Flakes and Lemon

How does time go by so fast?  Someone please explain.  Smile.  Today is my 4 year Blogoversary. I remember the day that I hit the button to click my first post live to the internet – a bit scary but moreover super exciting.  Little did I know; how that first click would change and enhance my life in such a positive way. Big smile.

I said to one of my co-workers that I had a goal to become more technically savvy and learn something new.  That was a few months before the birth of Authentic Suburban Gourmet.  Several, several months later she said to me – you did it!  You accomplished your goal and she was right.  Along with that I pushed myself to continue to learn about photography, finding my voice and mastering the whole social media trend.  I have to say that my photography has improved significantly since day one.  (I quiver a bit looking at the old photos, but it keeps me humble and pushes me to continually strive to the next level)  I understand the social media influence and benefits to helping my blog and connecting with new readers and friends.  Always learning about new things, and that is the fun part.

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Sunday, October 14, 2012

Maple Bacon Braised Brussels Sprouts + Lancaster Estate Winery

Within the heart of Sonoma County is the beautiful town of Healdsburg and wine growing region of Alexander Valley, which I am absolutely enamored with.  Among the many distinctive and intriguing wineries, is Lancaster Estate.  Ted Simpkins is the founder and creator of this magnificent winery.  The terroir embodies diverse soils and the sun drenches the vines perfectly to produce idiosyncratic wines. A marine influence rushes over the vineyards to which extends the growing season and allows time-honored Bordeaux varietals to mature, gain tannins, along with a impartial structure that is vibrant and perfectly balanced.

It was in 1995 that Lancaster Estate debuted under the Simpkins name and began to produce their rich and distinctive wines. The wineries creates four different Bordeaux style wines that are produced on this 53 acre estate along with being micro-farmed vineyard blocks and own the founder’ vision.

The actual winery tasting room and building was designed by Eugene Silva and seamlessly melds into the landscaping.  One of the distinguishing landmarks of this estate is the hillside cave.  The unique cave is 9,000 square feet of serenity, natural cool air and a peaceful quietness.  The cave embodies a unique round tasting room that hubby and I experienced our private tasting.  The wall is surrounded by a unique racking system for the many wine bottles to call home.  Deeper in the cave is another tasting area for larger parties set up with a luxurious leather chairs and a large wood table.

I first experienced Lancaster wines when one of my employees gave me a bottle as a gift.  This was over 5 years ago.  It was love at first sip.  I jumped onto the internet to learn more and join their wine club called the Guild of Six.  With just this one bottle, I knew I needed to join the club without even visiting the actual winery. Three times a year, I receive a present of this elegant wine – okay, not quite a “present” since my visa is charged, but it is a gift each time we open and enjoy a bottle.

Jesse Katz is the gifted wine maker behind this well-designed and highly crafted wine.  He earned a degree from Enology degree from Fresno State University with a minor in chemistry.  He mastered his wine making skills in Argentina and Napa.  Jesse was recruited from the cult producer Screaming Eagle in 2010 and has worked with legendary wine makers Andy Ericson, Paul Hobbs, Hans Vinding-Diers and Robert Foley.  Jesse certainly has the pedigree to make phenomenal wine and he is accomplishing this at Lancaster.

After being a long time club member of Lancaster, hubby and I finally made an appointment to have a private tour and tasting at this magnificent winery.  We ventured to Healdsburg for my birthday in JuneLancaster was one of our excursions for the weekend.  The grounds are simply perfect along with the cave and of course the wines are among our favorites.  We were treated to a glass of Samantha’s Sauvignon Blanc while our private tour started with a ride in the estates suburban around the entire estate. Samantha’s Sauvignon is named after one of the Simpkin’s twin daughters.  This wine is aged in stainless steel Bordeaux size barrels with a small number of new French Oak barrels to round out the flavor profile. Immediately you sense floral aromas and tropical notes.  A rich and smooth wine that is perfect for sipping on a warm summer day.

After our mobile tour around the estate, we were treated to a red wine tasting in the small round room within the cave.  The walls are surrounded by wine bottles that are uniquely secured to the wall; a striking light hangs over a large wood table where our pre-poured glasses awaited us.  We first enjoyed Lancaster Estate Sophia’s Hillside Cuvee and this vintage is named after the other twin daughter of the Simpkins.  This Bordeaux style wine is primarily cabernet sauvignon with a hint of merlot.  It embodies aromas of clove, cinnamon and hints of fresh berry.  After the long finish, you will experience hints of dark chocolate and taste the French oak.

Next was the Lancaster Estate Cabernet Sauvignon or as I always associate as the “purple label” bottle.  This is the noble wine of the group with traditional Bordeaux blending of Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot.  It is a rich wine that will surely be a teeth stainer, in good way.  With a balance of dark fruit, cherries, dark chocolate, cassis and vanilla this wine is a true winner.  Among the other things I love about this wine is the earthy quality and nutmeg undertones. Robert Parker gave this wine a 94 rating and deemed it “outstanding”.

Last but not least is the Lancaster Estate Nicole’s Proprietary Red named after Ted’s lovely wife Nicole.  This wine is reserved for the wine club members and I am so happy that I am a member of this exclusive club and aptly named the guild.  This wine is made from the 18 best barrels from that particular vintage.  It has expressions of espresso, clove and dark fruit.  The wine has a finely woven minerality and is bottled unfiltered.  This wine is simply exceptional.

If you are headed to the Healdsburg area or the Alexander Valley region, put Lancaster Estate on your list of  must places to visit.  Lancaster takes appointments by making a reservation only.  It is a unique wine country experience that you will be completely impressed by and is quite unforgettable. 

Speaking of unforgettable, I thought I would include a simple yet extremely flavorful recipe for Maple Bacon Braised Brussels Sprouts that I discovered on the food network while watching Dinners, Drive ins and Dives.  The recipe is courtesy of Brian McDaniel from South of Beale Gastropub in MemphisTennessee is on my bucket list and this gastropub is a must visit restaurant.  I guarantee that you will be making this recipe over and over again!  Enjoy!

Maple Bacon Braised Brussels Sprouts

4 Cups Brussels Sprouts, cut in half
6 Strips of Applewood Smoked Bacon
6 Tablespoons butter, cubed
4 Tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

Rinse the brussels sprouts under cold water and dry.  Once dry, cut each sprout in half.

Place the bacon strips on a cutting board and cut into 1/2 strips.  In a medium saute pan, heat the bacon over medium heat until crips.  Strain the bacon out of the pan and place on paper towels.  Keep the bacon fat in the pan and add the butter and heat until melted.  Once the butter is melted, add the Brussels Sprouts and stir frequently.  Saute until the sprouts begin to brown.  Add the bacon back to the sprouts and add the maple syrup.  Heat until the syrup appears to stick to the Brussels sprouts and a deep caramelization is reached.  Season with salt and pepper.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

{ Pancakes with Fig Balsamic Jam + Food Blogger "Jamming" Party Highlights }

What is one of your passions in life? Mine is food. I have an adoration for the blending of flavors, the various preparations and the joy it brings to people when they enjoy something truly wonderful. A few years ago I checked off the bucket list – making jam along with learning the process of canning.

One of the first jams I made was Fig Balsamic Jam. It was truly one of those mouth dropping flavors and quickly became a staple in my house along with a favorite gift to give to friends. It has the perfect balance of sweet, acid and texture. Works well with both sweet and savory dishes. It is quite simple to prepare and the result is just magnificent.

Yesterday I had the pleasure of getting together with five other food bloggers to make jam. It was not only the opportunity to see fellow food bloggers, but friends that I have made through this blogging journey. It was a day filled with great food, discussions about food, trying new flavors of jam and just generally having a great day.

Azmina of Lawyers Loves Lunch was kind enough to host the event at her lovely home. She set the tone of the day by her cleaver evite titled – “It’s Jammer Time” – which is sung to the tune of “It’s Hammer Time”. We coordinated through email what each person would bring. Gina of SPCookieQueen has access to the best fruit in the Bay Area and brought 30 pounds of nectarines and Santa Rosa plums along with her jam making prowess. Stephanie of The Baking Barrister brought lots of luscious lemons and sugar. Jean of Lemons and Anchovies shared the most flavorful blueberries along with assorted canning accoutrements. Liren of Kitchen Confidante brought beautiful canning jars along with other goodies. I brought a ton of fresh figs, large canning pot and other pots.

{ Left to right: Gina, Stephanie, Azmina, Me, Jean and Liren }

It would not be a foodie event if there wasn’t an abundance of delicious foods. No one disappointed. From divine salads, to supreme cookies and tasty appetizers – we did not lack for an array of sublime delights. We started the fig jam before diving into the snacks to get one jam going. Typically it takes me over an hour to simply trim and cut the figs – what a terrific treat to have so many hands working at once. This task was a snap!

Along with the Fig Balsamic Jam, we made Vanilla Santa Rosa Plum Jam, Blueberry and Nectarine Jam and Strawberry Lemon Jam.  It was great to have so many hands to help with the endevour.  We went home with lots of jam to enjoy for months ahead and will have fond memories of making it with everyone.

I shared my knowledge of jam by making with the Fig Balsamic Jam along with general things I have learned through the years. Gina is a master jam maker and I learned some new tricks from her. Love the art of continual learning. Here are a few tips from Gina and myself for mastering the art of jam making:
  • A small batch of jam is 3 pounds of fruit with 19 ounces of sugar and 2 ounces of lemon juice. Use a scale to measure the ingredients. This will yield four to five 8 ounce jars.
  • The key to great jam making is the perfect balance of sugar to acid. As the jam begins to thicken, taste to see if acid slightly takes the sweetness of the sugar away. You should still taste sugar but it will be balanced by the acid.
  • An alternative to sterilizing your jars is to do this in the oven. Wash the jars first, then place onto a baking sheet with sides and heat at 225 degrees for 15 minutes. Sterilize the lid with the rubber portion in boiling hot water for 10 minutes.
  • The basic equipment for canning includes: large pot, rack to hold jars, tongs to remove hot jars and towels to cool the jams on the counter.
  • After several batches of jam, using our senses of smell, taste, feel and taste will be your greatest tools  to making perfect jam.

Since it was Sunday, hubby loves a big breakfast and specifically asked for pancakes. He simply likes butter on top of his and that is it. I liked a bit of maple syrup on top. Today, I was inspired by our day of jam making, that I topped it with a large dollop of Fig Balsamic Jam and sliced fresh figs. Simply supreme. All in all, it was a wonderful day with wonderful friends and wonderful food. I have included my recipe for Fig Balsamic Jam. Enjoy!

Fig Balsamic Jam

Makes 12 to 14 pint jars

6 Pounds Fresh Figs – remove stem and cut into quarters
4 ½ Cups Sugar
1 ½ Cups Balsamic Vinegar

Use a large pot. Add all of the above ingredients to the large pot. Stir well to combine all of the ingredients. Place on the stove on high heat and bring to a boil. Once really bubbling lower the heat to medium. The sugar will begin to thicken and the figs will soften. Once the figs are soft, about 45 minutes to one hour. Simple test by pressing the spoon against a fig to the side of the pot. If soft and the liquid is thicker, then it is probably ready.

Remove from the heat and let cool for about 10 to 15 minutes. Using an emulsion blender, puree the jam. If you like it with chunks, then process less.

To process the jam, add to each sterilized jar and wipe around each rim to remove any of the jam that spilled. Put the lid and rim on each jar and tighten, but not too tight. Add each jar to the boiling water of the large pot with tongs and use a canning rack. Process for 10 minutes. Using tongs remove each jar and place onto a towel on the counter. This will prevent the jar from cracking if it hits a cold hard surface. Let cool.

You will hear the lids popping. The popping means the jar is sealed. After an hour, check each jar to ensure you can’t press and hear a popping sound. If you do, it means it did not seal. Simply re-process to obtain a tight seal.


1 C. Flour
1 T. Sugar
2 t. Baking powder
1/4 t. Salt
1 Egg
1 C. Milk
2 T. Vegetable oil

In a mixing bowl add all of the dry ingredients.  In another bowl add the egg and beat, then add the milk and vegetable oil and mix together.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix.  The batter will be lumpy.

Spoon about a 1/4 cup of batter onto a greased hot skillet.  Cook till pancakes are golden brown, turning to cook second side when pancakes have a bubbly surface and slightly dry edges.  Makes 8 to 10 standard size or 36 dollar size pancakes.  Simply double or triple the recipe if you need to make more.

*Pancake recipe from Better Homes and Garden - New Cook Book

Please enjoy these other posts from the "Jamming" bloggers! (Will update the others as they become available)
Jean from Lemon and Anchovies
Azmina from Lawyer Loves Lunch

Sunday, March 25, 2012

{ Napa's Oxbow Public Market }

Several months ago my friend Helen and I ventured to Napa for the day to explore the beautiful Oxbow Public Market in downtown Napa. The market sits in downtown Napa and is perfectly located along the Napa Rive and Napa River Trail, adjacent to the Oxbow Preserve and Oxbow By-Pass Commons. Oxbow is filled with artisans and purveyors of unique and fine foods. There are many tasty restaurants to choose from that are sit down to simply great take out style. We ventured on a Saturday and the farmers market was in full swing adjacent to the market.

We parked at the edge of the market and with our reusable bags in hand; we darted off to the farmers market first to browse all of the wonderful produce and food artisans. Given that this trip was several months ago, the fruits and veggies may or may not be in season right now, but we did pick up several key fruits and vegetables to bring home.

Dahlias were in full bloom with the vibrant pinks, yellows and oranges just bursting. In fact a whole stand was dedicated to these stunning floral gems. I just wish I had a backyard full of these along with my most favorite flower, the peony. The colors just make me smile from ear to ear.

One of the most interesting artisans that we visited was a vendor called “The Smoked Olive”. This company is the brainchild of Al Harman and Brenda Chatelain. They did not create this on purpose but rather through a series of discoveries. Al was born into a family of gifted artists and chefs and his own personal style leans towards abstract. With his concept and Brenda’s passion for business and marketing, they blended their strengths together to create their company – The Smoked Olive.

The smoked olive oil is award winning with a bold smoky flavor and wonderful olive finish. It is great for coating meats and veggies and then grilling. Their product is loved by Tyler Florence, Emeril Lagasse and Chef John Ash, among many others. The olive oil comes in many variations. We also scored smoked brown sugar that was simply amazing and will be great to add to any rub recipe.

The number of fantastic places to visit in this Mecca foodie paradise is mind boggling. From the restaurants such as Kitchen Door from acclaimed Napa Valley restaurateurs Todd Humphries and Richard Miyashiro to the famous Gott’s Roadside featuring legendary burgers and fish tacos, the choices are amazing. Inside you can visit Pica Pica Maize Kitchen, Pica Pica Bar, Hog Island Oyster Company or Ca’Momi with authentic wood fired pizzas.

If you are in the mood for a bit of wine, visit Oxbow Wine Merchant & Wine Bar to discover some of Napa’s hidden treasures. One of favorite stops where we spent the most time was the Whole Spice Company. It was filled with unique, fragrant and wonderful spices from around the world. Quite frankly it was hard to narrow down my selections of what I wanted to purchase. The smoked alderwood salt was among my absolute favorite finds for the day. By this time, a coffee was in order and we headed to Ritual Coffee Roasters for a delightful café latte that included "artwork" in the form of decorative foam. At first glance I detected a slight Russian influence with the logo but quickly learned it was just wonderful roasted coffee that was music to my taste buds.

I would also recommend that you visit Oxbow Cheese Market, Five Dot Ranch, Kanaloa Seafood Market, Kara’s Cupcakes, The Olive Press and Tillerman Tea. Shifting gears a bit, if you are in the mood for one of kind gifts, check out Heritage Culinary Artifacts for premium culinary antiques from all over the world.

We ended our morning with a snack from The Fatted Calf. It is an infamous artisanal charcuterie and butcher shop. We dined on the roasted pork sandwich with peppers, Arugula, delectable onions and a bit of mustard which was all tucked into a crusty roll that was undoubtedly baked early in the morning from a local bakery. Each bite was pure heaven.

If you are visiting Napa from other parts of the United States or world, be sure to put Oxbow Public Market on your list of places to experience while in Napa. If you are a local Bay Area resident, like me, get up early on a Saturday and check it out – you won’t be disappointed. Afterward, you can always go across the river to check out Tyler Florence’s Rotisserie and Wine which we went to afterwards for a light lunch and glass of wine (my visit) or Morimoto Napa (on my list).  Hope you enjoy all of the wonderful bounties available at Oxbow Public Market!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Deviled Eggs + The Perfect Oscar Party

Did your ticket for the Oscars arrive this week? If not, host your own soirée in the comfort of your own home. You could dress up in your formal best or simply be in your best lounge wear. The event could be a cocktail party, a casual bubbly and appetizer get together, a glamorous or informal dinner or large blow out party – you choose.

Unfortunately hubby never fully embraced the award show season and I can certainly respect that. It doesn’t stop me from heading upstairs to watch either the Grammies or Oscars, while he catches up on his recorded shows he loves. Thought I would share with all of you my idea of the Perfect Oscar Party.

It would be a smaller affair with approximately 6 to 8 guests. The invitation would be simple with a white background, the Oscar statue on the left side of the 5 x 7 card with the details printed in gold letters and high grade stock paper. The theme would be casual cocktail party attire and bring your slippers, since we are a shoeless house. For fun, I would put a “red carpet” on the front porch to set the theme for the evening along with purchasing a few Oscar statues for the entry, family room, guest bathroom and bar area. To add the glitz, some confetti and gold metallic streamers or ribbon would adorn the various areas.

The festivities would begin around 4 or 5pm, to allow for all the guests to give their reviews of the celebrities walking down the red carpet. A red carpet checklist would be given to each guest to jot down their picks for best dressed female and male, worst dressed female and male along with most outrageously dressed female and male plus a few other notable categories. Everyone can compare notes during the evening.  The result will be great conversation.

Since hosting this special event, the party would be held in our family room where the television is best viewed. All the appetizers would be front and center around the large coffee table and easy access for all guests to enjoy while being more casual. Small appetizer plates and gold napkins would be placed along side the elegant nibbles. Speaking of appetizers, my menu would include:

No cocktail party is complete without a signature cocktail. My signature cocktail would be the St-Germain Cocktail. I would rename it either – “Midnight in Paris”, “Moneyball” or “The Help”. Along with the signature cocktail, would be an assortment of wine, beer and a small bar to make mixed drinks. The bar would be set up on the kitchen island in a serve yourself motif with oscar statues and gold confetti.

During the Oscar event, each guest would have an Oscar Bingo card that you could find here or create your own. The idea being that when a person, action or activity occurred you would be able to mark that square. Probably best to play black out bingo, meaning crossing out each square. Choose a small prize and award the first person to black out the card.

Adding to my bag of tricks would be an Oscar Ballot for each person to predict the winner in the various categories. I would stick with the most well known categories and then award a small prize to the person who has the most correct on the ballot. Prizes could range from movie tickets, itunes gift card to download the songs from the winning movie or a small gift bag with popcorn and assorted seasons to make gourmet popcorn. Let your imagination run wild.

The finale for the evening would be the dessert. Perhaps an elegant crème brulee, a gourmet ice cream bar, assorted handmade cookies or your favorite chocolate truffles placed onto a cake stand. The possibilities are endless.

Deviled eggs are actually one of my hubby’s favorite foods. Perhaps that might entice him to watch the Oscars. Smile. Wink. The simplicity of these two bite wonders make for a great canvas for gourmet topping options that are endless yet add sophistication to a normally simple food. Lately I have enjoyed serving deviled eggs as a fun appetizer. I believe that I have found the perfect balance of seasonings that have earned much praise. Wanted to share with all of you, so if you do host an Oscar party on Sunday, this might be a consideration for your menu.

Deviled Eggs

12 Eggs
1 T. Vinegar

Place the eggs in a saucepan and cover with 2 to 3 inches of cold water. Place on the burner and gently bring to a boil and add the vinegar to the water. The vinegar will help to keep the egg whites from running out should an egg crack during the boiling process. Let the water come to a boil and then remove from the heat or you can simply turn off the burner and cover the pan with a lid. Let sit for about 12 to 13 minutes.

Either remove the eggs with a slotted spoon and put into an ice bath or simply drain the water and add cold water. You can then crack gently and remove the shell. I keep warm water running and remove the shells.


Eggs yolks, cooked
7 T. Mayonnaise
2 t. Yellow mustard
¼ to ½ t. Salt

In a bowl, add the cooked egg yolks and mash well with a fork until no large lumps remain. Add the mayo, mustard and salt. Beat vigorously to combine. Taste for seasoning and add more salt or mustard to please your palate. Use either a piping bag or small cookie scoop to fill each egg.


Fried Capers – simply place a tablespoon or more onto a paper towel to dry. In a small frying pan, add a teaspoon or two of olive oil. Heat on medium and place the dry capers onto the pan and cook until crispy. Remove to cool.

Applewood Smoked Bacon and Chives – cook 1 piece of bacon until crispy, let cool and cut into small pieces. Mince the chives finely.

Green olives – let drain on a paper towel until dry. Chop medium to fine.

Crab and Srirachi – use three small bits of crab and a small amount of Srirachi on top of the crab.

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