Herby beeffalo burgers

Beefalo1Sweet Georgia Brown, it’s been hot around here. Saturday, temperatures in Noe Valley got up to 102º, I’m told, and I certainly believe it. We live in a top-floor unit with a tar roof and windows to the east and west, so there was just no help in sight. We watched the temperature on our thermostat rise through the 80s and 90s until … oops! It only goes to 94º. Everything above that was just "OL" for overload. We were in OL for roughly 6 hours, and I don’t doubt for a moment that we broke the 100 mark, perhaps by quite a lot. Sitting in front of our lone fan in the kitchen was no help, as all it did was blast searing hot air into our faces.

We survived, but there were casualties. At one point I entered the kitchen and noticed that wine was leaking from two of the bottles on our rack. The heat had caused the wine to expand, putting pressure on the corks. The bottles that were obviously affected were not ones I particularly cared about, but I hope some of the bottom-rack stuff didn’t get too cooked. We immediately shuttled most of it to the basement, and stuck some in the fridge for safe keeping. Guess it’s time to invest in a wine cellar.

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Herb-an sprawl


Hi. My name is Sean, and I am a basilholic. Mere hours after I composed my mash note to basil, I went out running errands. I popped into Trader Joe’s for some Gerolsteiner sparkling water (mmm…) and a bunch of ridiculously cheap wine. So imagine my surprise when I saw they were selling ginormous basil plants in gallon buckets for, like, three bucks. So I did what any rational person would do. I bought two, and went forthwith to the garden store for another bracket and window box. Now, odds are that I’ve crammed too large of basil plants into too small of a window box, but as long as they live long enough to squeak out some pesto or something, I consider it money well spent.

It’s been nearly a month since I planted the other window boxes, and they’re doing quite well, too. However, I think they may develop an inferiority complex being stationed next to these goliath herbs. A couple more pics after the jump.

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Chilled melon soup with prosciutto and mint

MelonsoupWe had a dinner party last Thursday, and it’s taken me some time to pull together my notes and images to get the recipes up from it. But it was a fairly successful meal all around, and I wanted to document at least a couple of notable items.

For this event, I broke the cardinal rule of dinner parties: Every single dish I made I was making for the very first time. That said, I didn’t make anything all that complicated and so felt pretty confident that each dish would turn out at least well enough to serve to friends, if maybe not droolingly delicious. I am pretty sure I met at least that goal. Of course, it helps that I cheated on dessert and bought a bunch of pots de crème from Miette.

For the first course, I stole an idea from our recent exceptional meal at Acquerello: Chilled melon soup with prosciutto and mint. At Acquerello, they used galia melon, which was a brilliant green and extremely fragrant. I was unable to find galias, purtroppo, as they are my favorites, and had to resort to cantaloupe. But I think this would work well with any melon as long as it is very fresh, very ripe and very sweet and fragrant.

This is obviously a permutation on the classic Italian appetizer prosciutto e melone. But making it into a chilled soup lends a certain elegance, and the addition of mint adds a pleasant dimension of freshness and added complexity.

The recipe is simplicity itself, though it is slightly more than just pureeing melon. You have to bolster the melon with some supporting flavors lest it taste one-dimensional. A dash of sugar, a pinch of salt and some lime juice and Grand Marnier helped to build a more complex flavor and bouquet while still not getting in the way of the beautiful, ripe melon.

As per usual, the recipe follows after the jump, with the one caveat that measurements are extremely approximate. I did everything to taste, and so should you.

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Herb-an gardening

We have no backyard to speak of, but we do have an exterior stairway in the back. As we are on the top floor, even the landing between our unit and the second floor is high enough that we get full sun pretty much all day.

But I finally decided to make use of all that sun power, otherwise going to waste, by planting a little herb garden. (All the better for this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging hosted this week on Absolutely Green!) Well, actually two. In these two diminutive boxes (I may add more later), I have just planted sweet basil, rosemary, sage, Greek and Italian oregano and silver thyme. Because of the limited space available, I may never manage to farm enough herbage to make, say, pesto, but it will be nice to have the ability to take a pinch of something here and there whilst cooking. For a little added color, DPaul also composed a little box of flowers at the top, which we can enjoy from the kitchen, bedroom and office. More shots after the jump.

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