There is something so incredibly satisfying about a vegetable tian. Finely sliced rounds of potatoes, tomatoes and zucchini are arranged like colorful, fallen dominos and roasted to perfection. But not only is this dish beautifully rustic, the flavors are vibrant and savory. Honestly, I’ve been known to eat the entire thing – fresh out the oven and straight from the baking dish. If you haven’t already tried it, trust me when I say you’ll have this surprisingly easy to prepare Provençal recipe on heavy rotation this spring. And summer . . .
A mandolin makes the preparation irresistibly easy. If you don’t have one, it’s a wonderful investment. All you need to do is finely slice the vegetables – I’m using potatoes, tomatoes and zucchini here but you can also add eggplant and onions if you wish.
I consider myself a decent cook. Throw me in the kitchen with a slab of meat, some fresh veggies, possibly an egg (hopefully some rum) and there’s a chance something tasty will result. I also tend to over-think things. What I lack in skill, I try desperately to make up for in creativity. But after chatting with Charlie Parker, executive chef at Oakland’s, Haven, I realized there’s no need for fancy gadgets or million-step recipes to make elegant food. Fresh, quality ingredients go a long way. Case in point, this Monterey sardine, avocado, and radish, topped with a few sprigs of cilantro delfino. Sometimes a simple homemade sauce or condiment can be what elevates a dish. For example, preserved lemon puree perfectly accents this simple plate of roasted delta asparagus, fried egg, spring onion and brown butter. Sure, unlike chef Parker, you might not be able to get your hands on a whole Don Watson lamb to butcher at home. But blending up a little English pea pesto is most certainly doable. Garnish with a few local greens and you’re sitting pretty. Of course, sometimes it’s best just to kick back and let the pros do it for you. At Haven, chef Parker playfully dances the line between fine dining elegance and wholesome comfort food. He was nice enough to share a few of the aforementioned components with us today. Recipes for his English pea pesto and preserved lemon puree can be found below!
I was excited to revisit Daniel Patterson’s Haven located in Oakland’s Jack London Square. Admittedly, I had not dined at Haven since the days of Kim Alter. However, I continue to hear positive reviews since Charlie Parker took over as executive chef. The space was as pleasant as I remembered, with its bustling open kitchen and elegant dining room facing the harbor – but now with an beautiful greenery in abundance. The attention to detail is evident throughout the restaurant, and of course the same can be said for the food. Haven currently offers a robust prix-fixe three course menu, with an a la carte menu at the bar. Be sure to check back on Wednesday for a closer look at Chef Parker at work in the kitchen plus a few Spring inspired recipes.
Would you believe me if I told you the inspiration for this cake was a kit kat bar? Well, it’s true. And yes, green tea kit kat does exist and it’s my favorite candy, ever. This is a chiffon cake based on a recipe from the one and only Tartine in San Francisco and is super light, sponge-y, moist and airy. It’s just lovely. I added two tablespoons of match powder that gave it an intense fragrant green tea flavor. As you may know, I recently got engaged and I have been trying to get on top of wedding planning duties. At first, I was against having a wedding cake– I’d rather have a fun dessert. To be honest, I’ve never really liked wedding cake. But after making this, I realized that my wedding cake doesn’t have to be a heavy and dense and covered in fondant (bleh). I love the idea of serving a super light cake with an equally light whipped cream frosting. So who knows, maybe this will be my wedding cake!
One of my favorite colors is robin’s egg blue. I think the difficulty in recreating the color using dyes and food coloring makes it all that more attractive to me. Only Mother Nature can produce a blue that spectacular. So it only makes sense that the magnificent turquoise hue can be replicated using a single product of nature: red cabbage. That’s right. Red cabbage! You won’t believe it until you try it. And I promise if you haven’t dyed eggs with natural dyes before, you’ll be hooked after trying this.
I wish I could brag about how these are Easter egg creams, and that I melted down chocolate eggs to make a rich, velvety syrup. But to be honest, that just seemed like a waste of chocolate eggs. And if I was ever caught wasting chocolate eggs ’round these parts, I’d be a goner! The truth is that I’ve been dying to make an egg cream recipe for what feels like forever (for-e-ver). My mom’s a New Yorker, so I’ve had my fair share of egg creams. However, for some reason it took me a while to truly appreciate this classic soda fountain drink. Now I can’t get enough of them. Purists will tell you that it’s not a true egg cream unless you use Fox’s U-bet chocolate syrup. I, on the other hand, had to make my own chocolate syrup. It’s just better in my opinion. Yeah I said it! But if there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that the reason this simple egg-less, cream-less drink has lasted over 100 years is that it’s . . . simply delicious.